Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Alexander Bastrykin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika reported on the investigation into the accident and the work to inspect Russia’s river transport fleet.
The river cruise ship Bulgaria sank on July 10 on the Volga River’s Kuibyshev Reservoir. The latest reports give a total of 208 people on board the ship at the time, of whom 79 survived, 114 died, and 15 are still listed as missing.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon,
Colleagues, after the tragedy in Tatarstan on Sunday, I spoke with the Chairman of the Investigative Committee [Alexander Bastrykin] and gave a number of instructions. At the moment, as I understand it, the suspects have been identified and the investigations are underway. I would like to hear first from Mr Bastrykin on the investigations into what caused this terrible tragedy, and on the lessons we should draw from it. This was a matter I addressed at the meeting on Monday, and I gave the relevant instruction to the Prosecutor General [Yury Chaika].
Mr Chaika, I am talking of course about the inspections of the entire river fleet, the situation with licences, ticket sales, permits for tourism activity, and other related circumstances that directly or indirectly contributed to this tragedy. I want to hear from you in brief what has been done so far.
I hope the investigation will be as thorough as possible. A large investigations group with serious resources has been set up for this purpose.
One other thing I want to point out is that we cannot of course hope to replace our entire fleet of river and sea vessels over the course of just a few years. This is a complex and costly undertaking. To be honest, practically no new river boats have been built or purchased over these last 20 years.
But this does not mean that the organisations responsible for their state should just stamp the documents allowing them to operate. There is no point in putting the blame on a few scapegoats – those who stamped a document here or there. All those involved in organising this whole process must answer now, so that in the future, all officials, regardless of their rank, realise that the penalties for letting ships be used in this state might be not just disciplinary, but criminal liability.
This criminal liability should be reflected in real punishment. The investigation must thus be as thorough as possible, and, as the Chairman of the Investigative Committee said, must be based on the results of thorough comprehensive expert reports.
Let me repeat that the task is not just to establish the direct causes of this accident since the situation is more or less clear now already, but to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again in the future. This is a job not just for the Government, but for the law enforcement agencies too. Work on it.