In that last hypothesis of mine, the case begins in 1944, when Serguey Kolevatov, the father of Aleksander Kolevatov was murdered in Tavda. Note that all lines written in italics are quotes from available data.
About the Kolevatovs, we know the following:They lived in a private house in the center of Sverdlovsk, his father had a very good position - financial director (главный бухгалтер) of some factories. The people like his father will have been killed first in 1937. His father was not, in 1938 he moved to Gulag as a financial director of one of the factories in Tavda. The whole family moved to this place too. (…) 1941 - war started. The camp in the Gulag where Kolevatovs stay became on of the first camps for Germans and one of the most horrible ones. (...) At least they had food enough to survive. Suddenly everything crashed. His father was found dead on the railway line killed by a train. No investigation of his death has been done. In (1938?) he was assigned to
[wood] hydrolysis plant in Tavda to work as a senior accountant. There are unconfirmed reports that he worked at plywood mill in Tavda during the war. He died in 1944, hit by train.
I think there could have been corruption in this Gulag administration, that senior officers diverted a part of Tavda factories budgets to their personal profit and other goals, money that was supposed to be used to house, cloth, heat and feed mobilized workers (a different category of workers from zeks), and even maybe a part of these Uzbek and Tadjik workers' salaries. The planned expenses to maintain the mobilized workers were not realized, they spent less money for the mobilized workers than they should have, they didn't spend more than for zeks. They asked their accountants to issue fake invoices and to falsify the books of accounts in order to hide this difference. Complaints were so loud that inspectors were sent from the Central Asia republics to check about the workers' material conditions
. It is always the same story: people do anything when they feel authority is far away. Far from Moscow, Russian officials in Tavda employing mobilized workers far from home in Central Asia... But in January 1944, the director of the Verkhniaia Tavda woodworking plant was expelled from his position "for criminal, provocative attitude towards the workers", expelled from the CPSU and dragged before the courts. A number of local officials were dismissed at the same time as him.
In Tavda, Kolevatov’s father was probably killed because as the senior accountant of one of the factories, he was involved in these embezzlement practices and because he testified or was about to testify against officials under investigation. There were tens of thousands of mobilized workers in Tavda area, the scale of the embezzlement was big with a lot of money at stake. So one evening, an unknown man we call N.N. who was also involved in this large criminal scheme came at the Kolevatovs’ and left with the father who would never to be seen alive again. That evening, Aleksander Kolevatov was 10 years old, he saw the man at the door and his father leaving with him in the night.
We have to aknowledge that the staff of the factory was purged under a futile motive given the context: dead Uzbek workers would not have been correctly buried... in 1944, after more than 30 million dead due to war and revolution. I relate this strange trial with the "convicted
" but "not judged
" and then appointed as "Head of the 1st forest area of the energy forestry plant
" we can read in Ryazhnev's biography. Officials were punished but the regime did not want the dirt to appear in full light. We can even guess that if the punished were just removed from their positions without their criminal scheme being exposed, that is to say allowing the scheme to perpetuate, the punisher (or the informer) was just taking it over for himself.
Diverting money and collecting cash by saving on the maintenance expenses of mobilized workers could also register in the "blat" system as: A notable operation of blat system was the institution of tolkachs. In the Soviet Union, the Gosplan was not able to calculate efficient or even feasible plans, so enterprises often had to rely on people with connections, who could then use blat to help fulfill the quotas. Eventually most enterprises came to have a dedicated supply specialist – a tolkach (literally pusher) – to perform this task
(Ledeneva, Alena V. (1998). Russia's Economy of Favors: Blat, Networking and Informal Exchange. Cambridge University Press.). And it could be a prefiguration of the Great Cotton Scandal
of the late Brezhnev period in Uzbekistan:
"Despite the work, the water, and the promises, 5.5 million tons was too much. Field laborers began placing stones in their cotton sacks to meet weight requirements. Empty railcars were sent to Moscow. A few bribes later, the cars would be recorded as “full of cotton.” Investigators met mysterious deaths. On paper, the Uzbek people and Rashidov were growing miracles for the Soviet government. Exaggerated figures allowed more money to be funneled into Uzbekistan and right into the leaders’ pockets. The scheme was working. (...) The government was defrauded out of billions of rubles. Over 2,600 officials, most of whom were living like kings, were arrested and sentenced to lengthy jail terms. (...) The cotton fibers of this scandal unraveled further when Rashidov committed suicide upon the discovery. It is estimated that he pocketed more than $2 billion for himself and his accomplices.
It would be curious if a wood processing kombinat built in the middle of the Taiga had difficulties in fulfilling its objectives, but Soviet economy had proven abilities to absurdity. Filling a slush fund with embezzlement could be needed both for helping to fake industrial performances and for personal enrichment.
Lowering the life conditions of mobilized workers and therefore undermining their real
productivity in order to pay for a fictional
productivity (and dip into the slush fund while we're at it) looks like a common Soviet vicious circle, sawing off the branch you're sitting on had always been a Soviet idiosyncrasy. Serguey Kolevatov, as a senior accountant and financial director, would have been at the heart of the system, with a few other executives, like the head of production, the head of supply and of course the tolkach
Years later, Aleksander Kolevatov became a young man, he was hiking with his friends in the Urals. And then, the group took the wrong turn, not at District 41, but at Serov railway station:
January 247.00 (am) We arrived in Serov (town). (...) They didn't allow us into the building. The policeman stares at us suspiciously. There is no crime or vandalism in the city, as it suppose to be in times of communism. And then Yuri Krivo started a song, the cops grabbed him and took him away. At the attention of citizen Krivonischenko, sergeant explained that the rules of §3 prohibited all activity that would disturb the peace of passengers
. (Yudin's diary)
January 25Once Yuri Kriv was taken to the police station. He wanted to raise money for candy. It was funny. Then on the train Serov-Ivdel reached Ivdel
January 24 We arrived in Serov very early. We were not allowed in the station with the backpacks. We settled nearby the station. (...) There was one small incident - Yurka K. was taken by the police charging him with deception. Our hero decided to walk around the station handing a cap for change after singing a song. Yuri had to be rescued.
Krivonishenko was taken to the nearby police station, he was asked his ID by the sergeant and he answered he was the son of the "Chief Construction Engineer of the Beloyarski Hydro-Electro Station
" from Sverdlovsk. Thus, the sergeant called his boss who had a meeting in his office with a friend, both the chief of police and his friend met with Krivonishenko. At this moment, Kolevatov arrived to "rescue" Krivonishenko, he was asked his ID too. And then, the name of "Aleksander Sergueevich Kolevatov" was pronounced, and later the name of N.N. was also pronounced. And Aleksander Kolevatov understood that the man who killed his father in Tavda was in front of him. Kolevatov remembered everything, and N.N. too, and they just had to they look each other eye to eye. At that moment when Aleksander Kolevatov met with N.N. at the police station, the fate of the group was sealed.
And it happened here, at No. 4 on October Revolution Street, in one of the rooms of the old Serov police station, maybe at the second floor in the office of the chief of police (offspring of the Sverdlovsk Nomenklatura was rare and precious catch for a town like Serov):
Because N.N. left in 1944 a 10 years old orphan in Tavda, and he met in 1959 in Serov with a 26 years old man, member of Komsomol, college graduate, living an working in Moscow city center and befriending with Nomenklatura offspring... he could not miss his chance to immediately dispose of Kolevatov. Because these low rank chiefs were notabilities in their shitholes, but they were nobodies in Moscow. In any country, you're somebody when you are lieutenant in a remote garrison, and nobody if you come as a lieutenant to MOD headquarters in the capital. Thus, N.N. had to dispose of Kolevatov before he could gain any more power, connections, influence, that is to say as soon as possible, immediately, when Kolevatov was still walking on his grounds. N.N. left a 10 years old orphan in Tavda, in the heart of darkness, when Gulag officers were absolute masters and when a human life was worth nothing, and he met again with a young Moscovite engineer in the new de-Stalinization era... N.N. had to make his move now, or else he was lost.
Aleksander Kolevatov in Serov on Jan. 24, dark, very dark mood, close to Serov Memorial
(Lenin Street): maybe just after the sad encounter at the police station:
We know that Kolevatov had a hot temper: "Will we quarrel. After all, Kolevatov is with us
" (Kolmogorova's letter to Lidiya Grigoryeva) and "Sasha Kolevatov was the best in our debates.
" (Dubinina's diary). How could have he behaved at the police station? Did he show himself as someone who could take risks and not give in to his opponent? Whatever the interaction at Serov police station, it was just required that N.N. believed he had been recognized by Kolevatov and that he thought he was under the threat of a denunciation.
Yudin wrote his account of the arrest in group's diary on Jan. 24:the cops grabbed him and took him away. At the attention of citizen Krivonishenko, sergeant explained that the rules of §3 prohibited all activity that would disturb the peace of passengers. It is perhaps the only train station where the songs are forbidden, so we stayed without singing. Finally everything is settled by end fo the day.
The last sentence tells us that getting Krivonishenko out of the police station was not an easy work, it took a long time to get their friend out.
But Dubinina wrote about only a "one small incident" in her diary, that same day: "There was one small incident - Yurka Krivonishenko was taken by the police charging him with deception. Our hero decided to walk around the station handing a cap for change after singing a song. Yuri had to be rescued.
" We can consider the chain of causes and effects which lead to the police station... Krivonishenko had to be rescued at Serov police station because he was arrested at the railway station, he was arrested at the railway station because he decided to walk around the station handing a cap for change, he decided to walk around the station handing a cap for change because Dubinina didn't give him the money he asked her to buy food at the canteen, Dubinina didn't give him the money he asked her to buy food at the canteen because the group's fund was low (The boys cross the treasurer, that's me, with accusations of stinginess and greed. Alas, the canteen at this point is a great luxury for us.
), the group's fund was low because Dubinina wasted 200 rubles in Sverdlovsk (I was silly enough to buy five metres of cambric which cost 200 rubles
). Some people talk about "Dubinina's premonition of her tragic death", but wasn't it rather the memory of a previous mistake with unpleasant consequences and the most common feeling of guilt ?
Why not consider that her "foolishness" and her "silliness" she was accusing herself of could have been the cause of her depression (if it was not her period which is likely for a girl to be the common cause of a predictable change of mood: Mood is bad and probably will be for two more days. Evil as hell.
)? She described Krivonishenko's arrest and time at the police station as a "small incident" in her diary, but could she have to go through dark looks and heavy silences? Was something broken and was her position in the group different from now on? Could "The boys cross the treasurer, that's me
" have lead to "Guys are terribly outraged
." written in the "unknown diary" on Jan. 30, about Dubinina's exclusion from the group ?
When reading Dubinina's diary we can find that she paid a very special attention to Krivonishenko (and we know it was not a romantic issue), as if she worried about the consequences of her incapacity to give him the money at the railway station. She wrote that "In general, I am very, very sad
" but a few hours later: "Yurka Krivonishenko, sitting next to me, was smacking his lips and oohing with delight. This is real happiness, so difficult to describe with words. The music is just fabulous! The mood after the movie greatly improved
." What some call "the premonition of Lyudmila Dubinina of her tragic death" could rather have been "the guilt of Lyudmila Dubinina about the consequences of her silly expenditures".
But the point is that the "one small incident" was not "small" at all, it had to be "settled by end fo the day" and it was serious enough to have an impact on the hikers' relationships.
And finally, it is also quite interesting to notice that when Kolevatov once took the pencil to write in group's diary about the hikers' journey, he made it look like an escape:We got up at half past five, quickly gathered and left for the city of Ivdel with the first bus. (...) We rush out the door, but, alas, it was too late. The bus passed by and we were forced to chance after it as fast as we can, hoping fate would be merciful and, perhaps, we would catch up with it. (...) I mentioned that fate is merciful. The mercy came in the form of a girl going to Vizhay that hailed the bus and stopped the object of our persecution. A minute later we were already safely sitting on the second floor of the seats and traveling to Vizhay. We arrived in Vizhay about two pm. It turned out that we can continue our automobile journey in the next morning. Warmly said goodbye to Blinov's group, who went further (to the west of Vizhay in the deep forest area). After dinner, which was held in a warm "friendly atmosphere"...
(Jan. 25, group's diary)
"Fate", "persecution", "mercy", "hope", "rush", "safety"... are the words chosen by Kolevatov to describe the distance taken from Ivdel and Serov, the words he chose the only one time he wrote in group's diary. Don't these words speak more than just about a bus ride?
So, Krivonishenko and his friends were released, they continued their journey to the mountains. And in their back, N.N. and his accomplices were already organizing the silencing of the witness of Serguey Kolevatov’s murder.
N.N., that friend of the chief of police, was not a student or a logger, he was a senior executive in some position and he had connections with people of equal rank. With Ivan Vlasov for exemple, who was hunting with Stepan Kurikov
, the godfather of the Mansi :
The second hunter from the left is very probably Ivan Alekseevich Vlasov (Stepan Kurikov is handling the shotgun and at right on the bench is Nikolay Kurikov who shot Procopiy Anyamov dead):
VLASOV Ivan Alekseevich was born in 1922 in Ivdel; 7th grade education, ch. CPSU, Russian. In 1959 - captain of military unit 6602; lived in the city of Ivdel. A participant in search operations as part of the group of capt. Chernyshev on February 26-27 in the area of Gumpkopay; until 10.03 - in the area of height 1079. He served in the 1st training rifle battalion of the 42nd reserve rifle regiment of the 15th reserve rifle division of the Southwestern Front. Since 1942 - in the 149th special brigade of the 8th Guards Rifle Corps, senior lieutenant. Demobilized in October 1945. In 1953 - senior lieutenant, head of the combat training department of the headquarters of the VSO (military rifle guard) of Ivdellag. On 06/17/1953, when Ivdellag was transferred to the department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a recommendation was made "in order to improve camp work and restore order in the guards - to remove the head of the combat training department, senior lieutenant of the internal service Vlasov..." He retired in 1970 with the rank of major. Sportsman; was fond of skiing, shooting...
The camp did not have the expected production because maybe, here too, a part of the production might have been diverted and order in the guards was bad because they could have been bribed to ease the diversion. That his to say, when he decided to liquidate Alexander Kolevatov, N.N. could ask Ivan Vlasov some help and go directly to Stepan Kurikov to provide his man hunting party with reindeers and sleds without even having to give a motive:
KURIKOV Stepan Nikolaevich - in 1959 - a hunter; lived in the village of Suevat Paul. Member of the Kurikov-Nevolin search group 23.02-3.03. Participant of search works 25.04-6.05. Born in 1898 in Suevat Paul. Since 1942 he was elected foreman of the hunting brigade
of Suevat-Paul. In 1947 elected a deputy
of the Sverdlovsk Regional Council; in 1950 elected a deputy
of the Ivdel City Council for the Burmantov constituency. In 1953, he was elected chairman
of the primary organization of DOSAAF in the village of Suevat Paul.[/i]
There was a network of local senior officicials and notabilities around Ivdel, corrupted, who were socializing and making illegal profit at the expense of the Soviet administration and by whatever mean.
In Ivdel area, people with unclear biographies and with records of prison service could fill executive positions:
SOLOMONOVICH Y.V. State security officer. After having served his sentence in the Ivdel camps for the offence stipulated in article 58 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, he worked as deputy head of the department for registration and distribution of prisoners of the Ivdellag Department under NKVD of the USSR. Acting chief 1945, Head of the General Supply Department in Ivdellag.
KRASNOBAEV V.A. Occupation: Chief of preparatory work in 8th forestry district.
Lived in Ivdel.
Criminal record: conviction under art. 162 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR in 1943 to 5 years in labor camp (note: grand larceny at his workplace)
RYAZHNEV Georgy IvanovichHead of the 1st forest area of the energy forestry plant;
Lived in the 41st quarter.
According to unconfirmed information: he was convicted while serving in the Far East. He served his term in Ivdellag, where he remained to live and work after his release. In UD passes, as "not judged." Documents are known according to which in 1945 he was a candidate or a member of the CPSU (b), although according to the protocols of 1959 he is listed as non-partisan. It is possible that by 1959 he was expelled from the party.
And there is also a fragmentary account about Ryazhnev at the beginning of Yudin's diary
: Accountant Shalashov
receives money for
Suslova Tatiana ??
her assigned disability pension
once, when there was a change of accountants = 315 rubles
and so RUR 50 and then not at all
now give the
for (???) have to fight a few facts-those
These two pages should be totally deciphered and correctly translated. What "iceberg" was Yudin talking about ? Was there a tip of the iceberg ? And a submerged part ?
Ryazhnev, we can see him on this photo :
And also at left on this photo, younger, with an unknown blond man who seems to be the same man first at right on the previous souvenir photo of the hunt with Stepan Kurikov and Ivan Vlasov:
and the same man handling the rifle and the axe on this other photo
with Cheglakov. This unknown man appears on photos with Vlasov (Head of the combat training department of the headquarters of the VSO of Ivdellag
) and Kurikov (Chairman of the primary organization of DOSAAF
), with Ryazhnev (Head of the 1st forest area of the energy forestry plan
), with Cheglakov (Chief of the ОВПК of Vizhay Forestry
): he certainly was another local executive, maybe was he Krasnobaev himself. And maybe Ryazhnev was the first at left and elegant man with the same "kubanka" on souvenir photo of the hunt with Vlasov, Kurikovs and unknown blond man. All these small chiefs knew each other and were sharing pleasures, connections, interests.
Serguey Kolevatov was a senior "accountant
" in a work camp and was murdered, Krasnobaev was convicted for "grand larceny at workplace
", Vlasov was removed to "improve camp work
", Ryazhnev is mentioned in Yudin's diary about an obscure issue concerning an "accountant
", an "invalidity pension
" and "money
"... it was all about profit and money.
Given the number of former convicts everywhere in the hierarchy of District 41, Vizhay and Ivdel, it was easy for the murderers to collect precise intelligence about the hikers’ intended route. Hikers were telling people about their route, asking for advice: "they showed me their route seeking advice what is the best way to get to Mt Otorten and asked me to familiarize them with our maps of the area where they are going
" (Rempel's testimony), "The group of hikers, who died in the Ural mountains, I lived in the village of Vizhay and they turned to me as a hunter what is the best way to go the the mountain of [Otorten]. I told them about it and advised them to go through the hundredth kilometer i.e. quarter, as there would be better to go via the road. But they did not listen to me, and left for 41st quarter and 2nd Northern mine
.(Chagin's testimony) and " We talked with Ognev. He knows a lot and is interesting with him, now he talks about where we are going and more like this
" (Dubinina's diary).
The attackers went directly to Stepan Kurikov, got the reindeers and followed a route to Kholyat Syakhl, the other route, the easy one mentioned by Chagin: "I advised them to go through the hundredth kilometer i.e. quarter, as there would be better to go via the road
". Maybe they came with a truck, stopped at a Mansi camp, got the reindeers and went through the taiga to Kholyat Syakhl. So they set up their ambush at the Pass and killed all hikers, all of them if Kolevatov ever spoke to his friends about his meeting with N.N. and to hide the particular death of Kolevatov in the quantity of mass murder.
It is very possible that the attackers had not only the reindeers but also a Mansi man to manage the reindeers and sledges, and who knew the places were to find "ushnik - Mansi hunting house for warming
" on the route. A Mansi man who had to wait just nearby with the reindeers when the attackers were working on the hikers and who did not directly take part in the final massacre. Maybe Nikolay Kurikov. If the hikers were attacked, it is very unlikely that the attackers did not have the absolute superiority of movement over them, and therefore Mansi reindeers and sledges at their disposal, and their tracks got lost in the middle of all of the other tracks left by the Mansi in the area. We don't know the number of reindeers owned by the Kurikovs, but we know that other Mansi could have huge herds... as Miron Sambindalov: "he kept in private possession more than 500 reindeers. When he also had to herd the neighbours' deers, the summer herd reached 1000-1100 beasts.
" and as Nicolay Bahtiyarov: "I have 1200 heads of deer to take care of and I have to shepherd
". If not such huge herds, all Mansi had at least a few reindeers and sledges. We can see here
Nicolay Kurikov with some of the family's reindeers.
About the circumstances of the tragedy at "Dyatlov's Pass", we can't understand anything if we stick with the idea that the Den and the Cedar were hikers' works, after they walked down the slope to the forest on their own will. We have to change perspective...The Den and the fire at the Cedar were made by the attackers, not by the hikers. The Den and the Cedar were precisely on the intended route of the hikers and it was not by chance. The attackers set up an ambush on their intended route.
I think the impatience of the hikers to end the unpleasant night without stove forced the attackers to act before dawn. The event took place in the very last minutes of the night, when they still had to use torches for light, just minutes before the sky cleared up at the horizon in the East. Maybe the attackers discovered at the last moment that the hikers changed their route and that the tent was high on the Slope and at their right... when they were still expecting to harvest the hikers in the morning, at the end of their alpine ride from the Pass, and they were alerted at some time with the torches. The action began at the very end of the night and ended at dawn in early morning, maybe before sunrise.
So the attackers were waiting for dawn at the Den and expecting to see the hikers skiing down from the Pass right into their ambush but in the very last hours of the night they saw torches upside on the Slope and they understood that the tourist were already on their side of the ridge. In the tent, they did not sleep well because of the stove not in use and the cold. Two of the hikers were already outside the tent with their shoes on, with torches, and had a pee. Inside, Slobodin was awake and getting clothed before to get out, the others were not sleeping. It was the kind of night when you are impatient to begin the day, to eat, drink hot coffee, to move, go on... rather than to wait, awake and feeling miserable, in a cold and moist blanket. Two or three of the attackers climbed the Slope and reached the tent. Then the attackers pushed the group at gunpoint to the Cedar. Hikers were ordered to sit by the fire, and the attackers began to take the first hikers, one by one, to the Ravine, for the interrogation and killing. No time to pull a camera and take photos in the dark. Anyway the hikers never met with their attackers before, except if N.N. was part of the ambush: Krivonishenko and Kolevatov just saw N.N. for a few hours at Serov police station and they couldn't take a photo of him. The cameras were not a threat for the attackers (but Kolevatov's diary was to N.N.).
At the beginning there were more hikers than attackers. Attackers were divided in two parts: guards at the Cedar and executioners at the Ravine, like in the Mansi version of the event: The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans
(Anatoliy Stepochkin interview)
. Hikers were taken one by one to the Ravine, for interrogation and execution, 75 meters away from the Cedar and the other hikers not to spread panic among them.
And there, Kolevatov, Zolotaryov, Dubinina and Thibeaux were killed in the creek
, either with boulders or by foot kick:
All the strongest blows were made by the attackers aiming at the vital organs, as we can see according to the 29 fractures positions on the victims' bodies:
We can read this quite interesting article in the Lancet : "Global, regional, and national burden of bone fractures in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019
." based on the recording of 178 million bone fractures in 2019. The study tells us what bones usually break when there is any catastrophic event involving any person.
Skull and face, sternum and ribs fractures only represent 12,58% of the 178 M fractures, but at Dyatlov's Pass they represent 90% of the fractures.
Arm, hand, pelvis, hip, leg and foot fractures represent 71,87% of the 178 M fractures, but at Dyatlov's Pass they represent 0% of the fractures.
Unfortunately, the study mixes "clavicle, scapula, or humerus" fractures in a same category. Zolotaryov had a very rare scapula fracture and none of the 18 humerus was broken. In the USA for example, scapula fracture represent approximately 0.4-1%
, humerus fracture 8%
and clavicle fracture about 3,8% of all fractures. If we could have the detail of the "clavicle, scapula, or humerus" category :
Skull and face, clavicle, scapula, sternum and ribs fractures represent 16,78-17,38% of all fractures, but at Dyatlov's Pass they represent 100% of the fractures.
Arm (humerus included), hand, pelvis, hip, leg and foot fractures represent 79,87% of all fractures, but at Dyatlov's Pass they represent 0% of the fractures.We expect 17% in the blue circle and get 100%, we expect 80% elsewhere and get 0%
... (forgetting the detail of vertebras).
The pattern of the fractures tells us it was not accidental
, the hikers were attacked and the attackers aimed at vital organs (brain, heart, lungs). None of the 9 hikers suffered from any fracture that was not close to vital organs: in all, the hikers had 1,854 bones that could be fractured, but their 29 bone fractures (2 fractures of skull, 3 of scapula, 24 of rib) were all centimeters close to vital organs. Kolevatov's autopsy is firm and clear: The cause of death of Kolevatov was through violence. Forensic Medical Examiner - signature (Vozrozhdenny).
The hikers were killed and also brutalized
, first because the attackers wanted to know if Kolevatov spoke about the encounter at Serov, and second because they expected to find 10 hikers and Yudin was missing: the hikers were tortured until the attackers were convinced that Kolevatov didn't leak anything and that Yudin actually left the group because of his painful leg.Thus there are three kinds of wounds: the ones received during the interrogatory (bruises, abrasions, missing eyes, burns, etc.), the defensives ones (metacarpophalangeal joints injuries) and the deadly ones.
The mission order was "Avoid the Bhatyarovs and Anyamovs, check if Kolevatov leaked any information
, kill them all, leave no bullets", it explains the wounds and the deaths. Fear of denunciation gives both the motive of the killings and the different causes of the wounds.
The hikers were kept quiet at the Cedar, close to the fire, under the guard of a few attackers, and they had to ignore the painful and deadly outcome 75 meters away at the Ravine. At some point, the hikers understood that there was no possible return from the Ravine and three of them tried to escape and reach the tent, the ones who had metacarpophalangeal joints injuries
because they had a fight with their guards. But Slobodin was finished off with the blow at the head and Dyatlov and Kolmogorova were at their limits and just agonized on the Slope:
After the three hikers tried to escape, there were more attackers than hikers. Attackers gathered at the Cedar were Doroshenko and Krivonishenko were still alive by the fire (theories pretending that Doroshenko and Krivonishenko were first to die by the fire and that the others who died of hypothermia survived longer away from the fire, are inconsistent). They tortured Doroshenko in front of Krivonishenko, no need to separate them and walk away to do the job discretely.
And it could explain the forensic exam "portion of the epidermis from the right hand is found in the mouth of the deceased
" of Krivonishenko: for him, it was not only pain, despair, fear... it was also guilt
... guilt and self-punishment mixed with the other feelings... because Krivonishenko could have understood how bad he had fucked up in Serov. He had time to link the scene of his arrest at Serov railway station and rescue at police station with the consequence they were suffering. He cried then, and if not able to cry, he bit his hand to the blood... Krivonishenko was the last to die.
Kolevatov, Zolotaryov, Dubinina, Thibeaux-Brignolle, were first to die, then Dyatlov, Kolmogorova, Slobodin, and finally Doroshenko and Krivonishenko.
The attackers avoided to use their guns and had to push their captives to the forest because the area was not at all a desert, it was full of Mansi people always passing for hunting, for herding reindeers (and because the bullets origin could be incriminating). They specially wanted to avoid Mansi belonging to other clans than the Kurikovs: Anyamovs and Bahtyarovs. When Mansi gave their testimonies, some said : The hikers themselves we did not see or hear
and we were hunting and we did not hear any human voices
... They silently killed the hikers and under the cover of the forest.
Leaving no bullets and no deep wounds by blade (from knife or axe) was also leaving the door open for Justice authorities not to conclude to a murderous action and to quickly close the case. If the hikers had been shot or cut, they would have been obliged to follow through with the investigation. Without bullet and blade wounds, Justice authorities could legitimately conclude to the "unknown compelling force" and close the case without losing face.
Finally, the attackers just had to add a minimum of staging to confuse the investigators, they just cut some clothes on the dead hikers and scattered them on the scene. Staging was really minimalistic given the absence of bullet and blade wounds. And for days, the wind teared up the old tent the hikers were always mending and sewing, and the rescuers caused some additional damage when removing the snow. And that's it.
When the bodies were discovered, Stepan Kurikov panicked as he understood that his reindeers (and maybe his son too) where used in the murderous action, at first he went to the police with the story of the "Five Ostyaks" or he sent his brother Grigoriy :The witness testified: At the beginning of March 1959 I was in the police station and during this time there was a conversation that the hikers were killed. In the duty room sat one Mansi, I do not know his name, but they said that it was Kurikov, but what was his name - I do not know. Kurikov was asked how the hikers could have died. Kurikov said that near the holy mountain, where this mountain is located, he didn't say, there live five Ostyaks. They are like savages, they are not friends with Mansi or with Russian people. They never come to Ivdel. And these Ostyaks could kill the hikers because they wanted to ascend the holy mountain or because they thought that hikers could kill their deer and moose, which they feed on. Kurikov expressed only his own assumptions, but what really happened he, Kurikov, couldn't say. Kurikov saw these Ostyak savages some years ago. Kurikov didn't know where the holy mountain is. I emphasize that Kurikov expressed his own supposition. He said this since we had a conversation about the dead hikers and asked Mansi Kurikov how it could have happened. Militiaman Panov was present when this conversation took place
. (Gorbushin Artemiy Vladimirovich)
But then he was corrected and coached by the officials involved in the murder, they gave him order to stop the bullshitting and to keep quiet, and anyway he was not interrogated by the investigators (who focused on the Bahatiyraovs and Anyamovs and spared the Kurikovs). And his brother later denied the story:About the fact that near the sacred place there live five Mansi or any people, and that they are afraid of Mansi, I personally did not say any such thing, that includes the police.
(Kurikov Grigoriy Nikolaevich)
A few days after the killing, the attackers had Venediktov and Velikyavichus removed from District 41:Venediktov (...) not at the 41 district anymore, the former resigned and left, (…) Nowadays Velikevichius doesn't live in 41st district anymore, he resigned and left.
(Ryazhnev Georgiy Ivanovich)
Venediktov was probably asked to delay the departure of the hikers (just asked without being given a motive, like with Stepan Kurikov). Yudin who decided to leave the group on Jan. 27 was incited by Venediktov to explore the minerals at Northern 2 on Jan. 28: changing from a two horses to a one horse sledge, offering the loggers a day off to socialize with the hikers, adding a wounded hiker to the group and an extra activity at Northern 2... that is to say buying time for the murderers to set up their ambush. And maybe that's why:Yudin didn't believe that the cause of the death of his friends was a natural disaster
He understood that something was wrong at District 41 and in his testimony, fearing for his life, he tried to hide the fact that he was incited to join the hikers to Northern 2:
- Yudin said in his April 15, 1959 testimony:In the evening of January 27, 1959 we arrived in the village Second North, where we spent a night in an abandoned hut. My leg began hurting, I could not participate in the campaign, so on January 28, 1959 I left Second North and returned to Ivdel.
but Dubinina wrote at District 41
:Now we sit and wait for the horse to carry the backpacks, and we go on skis. (...) Yuri Yudin got sick, something with a nerve of his leg, in general he has radiculitis and he is going home. (...) At the moment we are sitting and singing songs.
(Dubinina, Jan 27)Dubinina's diary contradicts Yudin's testimony that his leg began to hurt once arrived at Northern 2.
-Yudin said in his 1959 testimony:In the evening of January 27, 1959 we arrived in the village Second North, where spent a night in an abandoned hut. My leg began hurting, I could not participate in the campaign, so on January 28, 1959 I left Second North and returned to Ivdel.
but Dubinina wrote at District 41
:Now we sit and wait for the horse to carry the backpacks, and we go on skis. (...) Yuri Yudin got sick, something with a nerve of his leg, in general he has radiculitis and he is going home. (...) At the moment we are sitting and singing songs.
(Dubinina, Jan 27)
and Kolmogorova wrote at District 41
:Yes, Yura Yudin is leaving us today. His sciatic nerves inflamed again and he is leaving. Such a pity. Such a pity. We distributed his load in our backpacks.
(Kolmogorova, Jan 27)
and she had to write a second time at Northern 2
:Uncle Slava is leaving today on his horse, and Yura Yudin is leaving too.
(Kolmogorova, Jan 28)Dubinina's and Kolmogorova's diaries contradict Yudin's testimony that the decision to leave was made after arrival at Northern 2.Kolmogorova's two successive accounts of "Yudin is leaving" on Jan 27 and Jan 28 mean that something made Yudin change his mind and go to Northern 2 in contradiction with his first decision.Timeline of the delays at District 41 and Northern 2:
Jan 27 - District 41 Scheduled Departure 10:00
Jan 27 - District 41 Actual Departure 16:00
Jan 27 - Northern 2 Arrival 23:00 (7 hours long)
Jan 28 - Northern 2 Wake up 08:00
Jan 28 - Northern 2 Departure (Slava) 10:00
Jan 28 - Northern 2 (Yudin) Departure 11:45
Jan 28 - Northern 2 (Group) Departure 11:45
Jan 28 - District 41 Arrival (Slava) 15:00 (5 hours long)
Jan 28 - District 41 Arrival (Yudin) before 17:00 (5 hours long)
Kolmogorova wrote in her diary at Northern 2:It's time to go out, but they are still digging and digging. I do not understand what's taking so long. The first 30 minutes are over.
(Kolmogorova, Jan 28)
In that morning, Yudin's desire to collect geological samples caused a more than 30 minutes delay before 10:00. The hikers were ready to go as Zina wrote and were waiting for Yudin, Doroshenko and Thibeaux to return. We know that they returned before 10:00 because Valyukyavichus left at this time with the core sample in his sledge. Then there is another 1:45 delay as the group finally departed at 11:45. The tourist lost 6 hours at District 41 because of Valyukyavichus' hay, 2 hours because of the one slow horse, and more than 2:15 hours at Northern 2 because of Yudin's pyrite. That is 10 hours 15 minutes of delay in all.
And by the way, according to this hierarchical gradient of information loss
, we can understand that it was at the level of Ryazhnev
(again) that things took an abnormal path:January 28, 1959 morning, worker Velikyavichus Stanislav was sent to 2-North mine with two horses pulling a sled on iron pipes. These draft horses transported hikers equipment. On January 29, in the barracks of the 41st district I met worker Velikyavichus who led the sled. I asked him how did they get there. He replied that they arrived safely.
(Dryahlyh Mihail Timofeevich)On January 27 I was approached by a man and a woman and asked if I can provide a horse to carry their things and products to the 2nd North mine, which is located 22 km from 41st district. I gave them a horse and a carter Velyukyavichus Stanislav Aleksandrovich. On January 28, 1958 at about 10 am, they left with him to the 2nd North mine
. (Ryazhnev Georgiy Ivanovich)At the direction of the chief of the section, Comrade Razhnev, I accompanied these hikers to 2nd North village they went on skis and I transported their backpacks on a sled. We arrived at the village of the 2nd North at eleven o'clock in the evening, where at that time in the village there was no one of the citizens and in general no one lived there.
(Valyukyavichus Stanislav Aleksandrovich)The lads made a deal with the locals for a horse to drive us to Second North settlement. But it will be about 24 km from the 41st Settlement. We helped Uncle Slava unload hay from a carriage and waited for the horse (it went to get more hay and wood). We waited until 4:00 PM. (...) Horse is slow. (...) It's getting dark. The horse is causing the delay.
(Doroshenko in Group's diary)
At the highest level of hierarchy, Dryahlyh thought the hikers were allowed "two horses pulling a sled on iron pipes", he checked with Valyukyavichus if they arrived safely. At a lower level of hierarchy, with Ryazhnev, we learn that in reality, they were only allowed one horse and that they left at 10:00. At the lowest level, the one of the man who led the horse, we completely forget about the number of horses and hour of departure. And in Group's diary we learn that in reality the hikers left at 16:00.
They were supposed to leave at 10:00 with 2 horses, with a sled on iron pipes, they actually left at 16:00 with only one and slow horse, and with a smaller sled on wooden skates
. The hikers lost more than 10 hours in all.
Venediktov and Velikyavichus were dismissed or they resigned and fled on their own when they understood that the request to delay the hikers' departure was related to their death.
And the attackers even joined the search party, they could steal Kolevatov’s diary
(if not stolen on Feb. 2) where they feared that was written the name of his father's murderer:The second diary belonged to Kolevatov, but it was never recovered. It is presumed lost or stolen by an unknown person.
Ivan Vlasov would have been the perfect candidate for the job:
He is the second man from the left, at the back. And according to radiograms:Search went on and on. The group of captain Vlasov carefully examined the valley of the stream in the sources of which - - - - - - - - there was an accident of the Dyatlov group. The group reached Lozvy tchk No traces of xxxxxx Dyatlov is found.
If any evidence was left behind, Ivan Vlasov was on site to do the cleansing, with Cheglakov
himself. Because the murderers had to manage two unforeseen events:
1. The deviation from the intended route (the ambush was set up on the intended route, the tent was on a deviation route but the hikers actually died on the intended route).
2. The presence of diaries. N.N. was receiving reports from the investigation and when he learned about the diaries, it was a hazard to deal with in emergency. We can imagine the following dialogue: "- What is the outcome? - All down and Kolevatov didn't speak to the others. - Good!" and later "- But they have found diaries. - What diaries? - These precious youngsters from the cities, they write about their thoughts and their feeling, all their ****, in diaries..." The murderers were older men, not of the same generation, and with lower education, they could not represent to themselves what was the life of the graduates from UPI, and the mission order was just: "Avoid the Bhatyarovs and Anyamovs, check if Kolevatov leaked any information, kill them all, leave no bullets.
" Thus they had to recover Kolevatov's diary and they did it successfully.
The fact that Kolevatov's diary was missing is absolutely essential. And not because it could have contained any precious informations unnoticed by the other hikers, allowing the investigators to follow a trail leading to Mansi worshipers, a forgotten Vorhum, UFOs, secret military experimentations or whatever: it was essential because it was Kolevatov's own diary
. The tragedy was about Kolevatov, about his father's death, about the 10 years old boy in Tavda, about the encounter in Serov. His diary was stolen, and the only to be stolen
, because it was a threat to N.N.
And maybe, they finally killed Procopiy Anyamov who was about to talk to the police:
KURIKOV Nikolai Stepanovich (born 1937) - son from the first wife of S.N. Kurikov. He lived in the village of Suevat-Paul. In the early 60s, he accidentally killed P.V. Anyamov, brother of N.V. Anyamov, while hunting. Sentenced to one year probation.In the early 60s, while hunting, he accidentally killed Prokopiy Vasilyevich Anyamov, the brother of Nikolay Vasilyevich Anyamov. He was given one year suspended sentence.
Because Anyamov clan was not as rotten as Kurikov clan under the rule of ambitious Stepan Kurikov or maybe just because Procopiy Anyamov was tired of Stepan Kurikov's claim to rule the Mansi and he threatened the godfather with available leverage.
----So, there would be 11 victims in the case: Serguey Kolevatov (1944), Aleksander Kolevatov and his 8 friends (1959), Procopiy Anyamov (1961).
These 11 murders were committed on the background of millions of murders committed during WWII and in the Gulag. They were a drop in an ocean of violent death. And the case of the 9 hikers was itself the cover up of the previous Serguey Kolevatov's murder. And the death of Procopiy Anyamov was the ultimate collateral damage.
The most fatal aspect for the young hikers was to threaten the activities of senior officers, not very high ranking KGB and Military, but local chiefs who had just enough power and all means of action at their disposal at a local level, who were all "head" of some small department and had criminal records for most of them, sort of local and mediocre mobsters or warlords, and thus the hikers had no way out, they were doomed.
And in the present hypothesis, there was one last character who could have played a role:PRODANOV Ivan Stepanovich (Проданов Иван Степанович) (1906-1964) in 1959 - 1st secretary of the city party committee in Ivdel; head of the operational search team (Ivdel) from Mar 13. Born into a family of peasants in the village of St. Burassy, Saratov region in 1906. Russian. Graduated from the Forestry Institute (Sverdlovsk) in 1936 with a degree in forestry land transport. 1930-1936 - studies at the Ural Forestry Institute (Sverdlovsk). After graduating from the institute in 1936-38, the technical manager of the forestry unit in the Sverdlovsk region. From 1938 to 1942 technical manager, the head of the production division of the VostUralLag of the NKVD (Fabrichniy,Tavda). Since 1942 party work VCP(b). Candidate for membership in the VCP(b) from 1928; member of VCP(b) since 1929. Secretary for Industry, Secretary of the CC of VCP(b) in Turinsk (from 1942) and N. Lyalya (from 1945). From Sep 11, 1952 to Jan 8, 1963 - 1st Secretary of the City Committee of the CPSU of Ivdel. In March 1959 he was elected deputy at Ivdel City Council. He died in 1964, was buried in Ivdel.
We know for sure that Ivan Prodanov met at least twice with the Kolevatovs: first time between 1938 and 1942 in Tavda (he was present in the very nearby Turinsk from 1942 to 1944 and Serguey Kolevatov's death), second time in 1959 in Kohlyat Syakhl with dead Aleksander Kolevatov. We just need to consider a third encounter, at Serov police station with alive Aleksander Kolevatov to solve the case.
It is the most elegant solution. It is simple, beautiful, clear, meaningful, Occamian, realistic, grounded, harmonic, synthetic, whatever... We don't even have to connect the dots, the lines are already traced, we just have to answer the question: where could Kolevatov's and Prodanov's trajectories have crossed again ? Answer is: at Serov police station.On this sketch, all the names of persons and places written in black are proven facts, the only hypothetical part is the name written in grey.
To be precise, the succession of events would be the following: in 1938, S. Kolevatov and Prodanov are appointed as senior accountant and head of production in Tavda where they are involved in an embezzlement scheme. All these factories are part of a "Kombinat" dedicated to wood processing, the factories are gathered in the same industrial zone: wood hydrolysis, plywood, woodworks, whatever, they all belong to the same industrial complex. In 1942, Prodanov is appointed at the nearby Turinsk. In 1944, there is a purge in Tavda: the director of the Verkhniaia Tavda woodworking and a number of officials are trialed and sentenced. Being in Turinsk at that time, Prodanov saves his head but S. Kolevatov is liquidated. Prodanov and the remaining corrupted who survived (or initiated) the purge were involved in the liquidation of S. Kolevatov. Years later, in 1959 in Serov, Prodanov meets again with A. Kolevatov, the son of S. Kolevatov, and he feels threatened by the reappearance of a witness of the Tavda events. With his friends, local corrupted executives, Prodanov organizes the liquidation of A. Kolevatov and the group of hikers. After their murder, Prodanov easily follows the progress of the investigation as he was himself a part of it, he recovers A. Kolevatov's diary and he locks the case. And finally, he goes in person at the crime scene, thereby closing the loop.
Prodanov was also elected at Ivdel city council in March of 1959. The reappearance of Kolevatov happened right at the time when Prodanov was doing political maneuvers for his election. And it could explain the strange delays and sudden accelerations in the search of bodies and investigation.
In summary, the solution is in finding the good layer: loggers and outcasts are too low, KGB and Military graduates from MGIMO are too high... small chiefs and mediocre notabilities of small towns are the right layer. There was a higher level of authority, the one which removed Vlasov from his command at Ivdelag, fired and trialed the director of the Verkhniaia Tavda woodworking plant, punished Krasnobaev for "grand larceny at his workplace" and fired Ryazhnev from CPSU. The murderers operated in the shadow of the higher authority, at a lower level but not at the lowest. It meant many things: Serov and Ivdel rather than loggers' barrack and Mansi yurts, easy access to any means of action, authority over Venediktov, joining search party for crime scene cleansing, recovery of Kolevatov's diary. And when crossing this horizontal layer with the historical thread of the deaths of Serguey Kolevatov-Aleksander Kolevatov and his friends-Procopiy Anyamov
: that crossing gives the coordinates of Dyatlov's Pass and the name of Ivan Prodanov. And we have all answers to the questions: who, why, how? And the best possible answers...Tavda is the origin of the case, the key opening all doors of missing answers and the principle putting in order all data, evidences and events.
In all, the protagonists of the drama had to face four contingencies or chances : the rescue of Krivonishenko at Serov police station, Yudin's departure because of his leg, the deviation of the hikers from the intended route, the unknown and unexpected presence of Kolevatov's diary in his backpack. That is to say, this hypothesis does not pretend to follow a sort of unrelenting equation of events. Most of the events happened according to the determined will of the protagonists but there was a small part left to chance... like life itself
. The hikers met with many people on their journey: school children, truck driver, steward lady from the train boiling water for the tea, bus driver, countryman, workers, police sergeant, loggers, young drunk man, all harmless people, low profile, but when Krivonishenko passed the door of the police station, and later Kolevatov, they entered the wolf den. It was the only place where they could collide with some kind of dangerous and evil reality. Even though Ivan Prodanov lived in Ivdel, it was not in Ivdel that Kolevatov met with him, the hikers spent just a few hours there at night, sleeping in a corner at the railway station and getting the first bus to Vizhay very early in the morning. The wrong turn was really at Serov, when Kolevatov entered the police station to rescue Krivonishenko. Here, they left for some time the level of sergeants, bus drivers and steward ladies, here they had the occasion to meet with powerful and dangerous individuals. Strangely, Krivonishenko almost dragged Kolevatov to Prodanov, when being taken to the police station and then when giving his name and the position of his father to the sergeant... they were like heading directly to Prodanov. After Tavda and before Kholyat Syakhl, the encounter with Prodanov at Serov was the center of gravity, the fatal node of the case.
One of the contingencies was Yudin who escaped death because of his leg. For the murderers, it could have been a threat but at the Ravine the hikers were interrogated and it was established that Kolevatov kept the encounter at Serov to himself, and furthermore Yudin made a very short testimony, not saying a word about Kolevatov, not a word about Serov (though he mentioned Sverdlovsk, Ivdel, Vizhay, District 41 and Northern 2), even rewriting the timeline of the events in District 41 and Northern 2 to make them appear the more normal as possible, forgetting about the delay, and keeping low profile.
About a possible cover up. The murder of the 9 hikers might have cause a conflict between different Soviet administrations: Gulag, KGB, Ministry of Justice, CPSU. And maybe it was decided to discretely liquidate Prodanov, once the hustle and interest had passed (or once his protectors lost power), after a few years, closing the case once and for all. If such a thing happened, there were 12 murders in the case, from 1944 to 1964.