There are two different sections to the "Bienko" article. The first reads like an interview; the second seems to be a summary of his recollections in his own words. Was one of them the source of the other, or were they obtained separately? It's very interesting how similar they are.
It sounds to me like he's telling a tale he has told hundreds of times. He was closely related to a very famous, very strange occurrence; he will have told his story over and over for the last 50 years. At family events, around campfires, with a pint of beer, etc. ("Hey! Want to hear a good story? Let's have Bienko tell us about that hiking trip he didn't go on!") I suspect that the discrepancies have crept in due to his adding information he learned later -- not because he can't remember the events and not because he wishes to deceive, but because it makes a more compelling story this way.
There are, however, some things that make me suspicious.
– Maybe the Komsomol specifically sent you to the timber industry camp in order to make room for Zolotaryov?
– No I do not think so. In those days, everything was much more honest.
Really? Can anyone in Russia speak to this point? Is it true that "everything was much more honest" at that time? Perhaps he was simply more gullible and idealistic as a young man? Why doesn't he address the question more thoroughly? Seems like he would have said, "Oh no, we were expected to do a certain amount of work, and I had not done mine." Or, "This was the time of year they go through the records and make sure everyone has done his part; I ought to have expected it." etc. He doesn't even comment that he was disappointed or angry or chagrined or anything. He doesn't mention his own feelings at being told that he must work instead of joining the expedition with his friends. Why?
– They say that Zolotaryov was a stranger to the Dyatlov group?
– Not true. Everyone immediately fell in love with Zolotaryov. He was a sociable and cheerful guy. Easily connected with anyone.He knew a lot of hiking and camp songs. He easily fit into the Dyatlov group. He especially made friends with Nikolay Thibault. They were inseparable.
Maybe this is a translation difficulty, but it sounds as though he isn't answering the question. It sounds as though he is asked: "Did anyone in the group know Zolotaryov before the hiking expedition?" and he answered, "Oh, everyone immediately fell in love with him. He fit in very easily." He is being asked whether Zolotaryov was known, but he answers by saying that Zolotaryov was liked. This is an evasive answer.
– Maybe Ivanov learned something that was a state secret?
– I don't know.
...and that's all he says about it! He goes to some length to speculate about infrasound, but he refuses to speculate about Invanov learning a state secret. Why?
It's interesting, also, how he calls attention to the quick organization of the search: I became an eyewitness to such a rapid organization of large-scale searches that now it seems unreal. And the secret of such efficiency was that, bypassing all departmental barriers, the Regional Party Committee called the District Committees, and they called the Party Committees of the necessary organizations. Help, both civilian and military, was provided immediately. And, in his Recollections: I became an eyewitness to a very expedient, taking couple of days, organization of large-scale search that now it seems unreal. And the secret of such efficiency was that, bypassing departmental barriers, in case of emergency, the Regional Party Committee called the District Committee, and the latter called the Party Committee of the necessary organization. The resources, both civilian and military, needed to save people is urgently provided by the organization. (Did he really say this very same thing two different time, or are the two sections taken from one source?) I wonder why this is such an important part of the story to him. If, as seems likely, he has told the story over and over and added interesting parts as he learns of them (Evening Otorten, etc), he has made a firm decision to include this bit about how amazingly quickly everyone responded and all the departments cooperated together, and insists on naming the departments specifically. Why? I can't see that it makes the tale any more exciting. The only purpose I can see is that it credits several specific governmental departments with caring greatly about the fate of some student hikers. Why is this important to him?
Before reading this, I had not supported the theory that Zolotaryov had been specifically placed within the group, or any kind of government conspiracy or cover-up. After reading this, my suspicions are aroused. The story feels...uneven. Parts of it read like an old man telling an exciting story from his youth, a story he has told over and over and over (When Ivanov returned from the scene of the tragedy, he told me that if he were superstitious, he would have believed in the devil.) And parts of it sounds like a Soviet news reel (At the request of the Regional Party Committee, the military first dropped off at the search area a group led by Captain Chernyshev.) Put together, it sounds like an old man who, for fifty years, has steadfastly refused to give the government any reason to come after him. (Why should the government come after him?) His tale is juicy enough to be entertaining, but carefully diverts blame from any official group or individual and leaves the whole thing as a Mystery.