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The Washington Post:Russian warship’s sinking raises tense questions about fate of crew


The sinking of the Russian warship Moskva is causing tension back home, where some families are asking questions about the fate of the crew and a prominent state TV anchor is demanding answers about how the debacle happened.

The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet sank last week after being hit by two Ukrainian missiles, delivering a significant blow to Russia’s naval capacity, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said.

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Russia confirmed that the ship sank but said only that it had been damaged by “heavy storms” and a fire that caused ammunition on board to detonate. On April, 14 Russia’s defense ministry said all crew members had been evacuated from the ship. The authorities have not confirmed any dead or wounded.

But one sailor’s mother said her surviving son told her that about 40 people died and many were wounded and missing in the sinking. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe published the unnamed woman’s remarks on Sunday, saying it had reviewed documents proving that the son served in the navy, though not specific proof that he had been aboard the Moskva when it sank.

“There are dead, there are wounded, there are missing. My son called me when they were given phones. They left their documents and [their personal] phones on the [ship]. He calls me and cries from what he saw. It was scary. It is clear that not everyone survived,” said the mother, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety.

Questions from other people claiming to be relatives of Moskva crew members also appeared on social media and were picked up in the Russian media. The Washington Post was not able to reach the account holders to verify the information.

On Sunday, a user of the social-media platform VKontakte said the ship’s commanders told him that his son Yegor, a conscript, was among those missing in the tragedy.

Russia earlier “said that the entire crew had been evacuated. It’s a lie! A blatant and cynical lie!” Dmitry Shkrebets wrote.

“After my attempts to clarify the details of the incident, the cruiser commander and his deputy stopped communicating with me,” Shkrebets wrote. “I ask everyone who is not afraid and not indifferent, spread this appeal of mine wherever you have the opportunity” so the tragedy is not hushed-up.

In a later post, Shkrebets said three families from different parts of Russian contacted him to say their children were also missing from the sunken ship.

On Russian state-controlled TV, meanwhile, one widely followed anchor said he was “furious” over the sinking, voicing a rare note of displeasure with the authorities.

“Just explain to me how you managed to lose it! Tell me why the hell you were in that part of the Black Sea at that time,” Vladimir Solovyov asked during his prime-time show over the weekend. “Why did your fire-extinguishing system not work and the ship burned practically from the inside out?”

Russian warship’s sinking raises tense questions about fate of crew (



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