Kursk Submarine disaster
- The Russian submarine K-141 Kursk sank in the Barents Sea on 12 August 2000. The accepted theory of the explosion is that a gas leak led to a detonation of a torpedo-based warhead, which in turn triggered the explosion of six other warheads. This second explosion was so powerful that it registered on seismographs across northern Europe. Despite a rescue attempt by British, Norwegian, and Russian teams, all 118 sailors and officers aboard perished. The Russian government commissioned a Dutch firm to recover the wreckage, and all of the bodies were later buried in Russia.The explosion was reported on Russian television channels and soon became a mass media event that riveted the nation, as it was believed the sailors were alive for a few days after the explosion. The Russian government’s slow reaction to the disaster and subsequent misinformation campaign caused anger among the Russian public; the Kremlin’s approach was viewed as similar to the Soviet failure to inform the population of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The event was also the first and only genuine political challenge faced by Vladimir Putin while holding the office of president of the Russian Federation. His decision to remain in the vacation resort of Sochi during the early days of the crisis caused his popularity ratings to drop markedly, and he subsequently apologized for what he characterized as a bad “public relations” decision.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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