This is a quote from Natalya Saharova, forensic expert (https://dyatlovpass.com/natalya-saharova-KP?rbid=18461), who examined the case in 2014.
I analyzed the available photographic materials. The tent for example. The snow lies in layers around, without marks. I assume that the area near the tent was deliberately covered with snow to hide the traces (shoes, wrestling, dragging, where the guys left the tent). With such an arrangement of snow on the tent, it is impossible to make linear cuts in the side panel - it must be stretched. That is, the cuts were made before the snow was piled up.
Apparently, the sequence was like this. First, the tent standing on the struts was cut, the actions near the tent were hidden under the snow thrown around, inside the tent was inspected using a flashlight (lying on a layer of snow), then the tent was covered with snow, which is why it sank, the flashlight was placed on top.
She is suggesting the scene was staged. I don't know why I haven't seen this report before. It is a fascinating read.
She has some valid points but for me , a lot of how the case unfolds , ties in with the myths.
The poor documentation and the photos do raise a question . The photos do not look like a formal crime seen investigation that we might imagine in our minds from what we see on TV.
If we try to understand the chronological events of the search and rescue , it can lead us to comprehending how things may have got into such a twisted knot.
The question I would like to ask is, was the case a criminal case from the start?.
I do not know how search and rescue cases are filed or documented in any country. Even in the UK with hikers that are found dead on the hills , I don't know if forensic style photos are taken and the location of every object is documented?.
The point being, was everything getting executed in the context of search and rescue for the Dyatlov group.....? ....... It would seem that it was.
There were at least 3 tourist groups in the area, possibly more all over the country as this is what students did, it was a popular activity all year round, there is nothing mysterious about their back packs, distance travelled, equipment, it's all a standard passtime and they were well experienced. One of the other groups got into trouble as they burned their tent, they continued their hike by making snow dens and on their return were recruited to join the search parties for the Dyatlov group.
As I understand it, several search groups were dropped off in various pre planned, logical search patterns. One being the final known destination, mt Oroten and they were to work backwards , another group to follow the route from the last known location and work forwards, plus other groups dropped off inbetween. Flights by planes and helicopters were utilised to see if anything can be seen , which I believe some trails could be observed, deer paths and possibly ski/sliegh trails .
Anyway, coming back to the tent and surrounding snow. The photo we see is the following day after its discovery. None of the witnesses report seeing footprints or signs of outsiders. Not one.
I don't fully understand what Natalya Saharova is implying. We can see that the searcher's were not sinking into snow leaving footprints. There had been considerable snow fall , or wind swept snow over the 3 weeks. The photo we have of the tent is after people had entered it. Natalya Saharova may be suggesting it was staged but she is working from the same resources as the rest of us.
I do not think it's impossible to make cuts in the tent if it's collapsed or otherwise.
Natalya Saharova believes it was murder and questions the nature of the investigation, lack of photos and interviews etc , which is a good and fair point.
However, this is why I ask the question ;was the case a criminal case from the start
I think this question is important because it will determine how we view the sequence of events and why we are confused.
If we assume those in charge of the search and rescue were by all means , doing the logical standard procedures with no prior knowledge or suspicion of murder ,we can observe
1: they start to organise resources , search flights, start contacting locals/mansi and students at the gymnasium to search, sappers with mine detectors and sniffer dogs are requested and of course the military resources would be used in conjunction with all of the above.
2: they set up a base camp, clear trees so the helicopter can land with supplies .
3: the hikers tent is found, quickly searched by the untrained students that were given no instructions of protocol and some items are taken back to base camp that evening along with the information that there are no bodies. ( Possible extra cuts were made and excavation of snow on top of the tent during the initial finding of the tent) . On students return to base camp , Basecamp radios to lead investigator, lead investigator gives order to not touch anything . This request is too late as it is after the tent has been reported found. the tent site has been innocently searched.
4: following day, foot prints are found that lead down the slope, the priority is to find the hikers, hopefully alive. It is still a search effort at this point. The two Yuri's are found (and here we get one of the first myths that's over reported , that the hikers left the tent undressed and in their underwear. Although it's a truth at that moment in time, the two Yuri's were were found poorly dressed and in their under garments, the rest of their clothes were later to be found around the den area and perhaps used/shared by the other hikers) . Dyatlov and Zina are also quickly found but better dressed.
The tent is also 'officially' searched on that day and it is reported that some of the searcher's are affected by the news of the comrades death's. The radiograms add a bit to the confusion but I suspect that's down to word of mouth and delays in communication at the site, we have several separate localised search's occuring at the same time. This will be on the slope, at the ceder and the tent. There is initial mis Identity of one of the Yuri's , the transportation of the bodies to boot rock, probably speculation and gossip by all involved. There is a lot going on. We can read in later interviews by various witnesses that they were speculating all kind of ideas as to why the hikers left the tent.( This is when the first rumours would have started, none based on facts.)
5: Rustem is found two days later. Autopsies are carried out and inspection of the ripped tent , where it is then reported that some of the cuts in the tent suggest that it was cut from the inside. ( Side note: I question the lack of information regarding the state of the tent from when first discovered and packed up to the picture we have with all the cuts. It is in shreds by the time it is hung for the photo. You don't need to be a forensic expert to notice how badly damaged the tent is. Why this is not documented is another puzzle.)
6: 2 months go by until the ravine 4 are found with the most serious injuries.
The details and report about the tent being cut from the inside and the ravine 4 is important to the context to the initial search and how we perceive the investigation. These facts were found out after the initial search and rescue . Those in charge of the initial search did not have this information, they had no reason to think or believe that they should be documenting every single moment of the search as a potential murder scene. That in parallel with the fact that there were no injuries to the first 5 hikers bodies that would imply outsiders , or at least murder by human hands. We can argue that Rustem had a fractured skull but again, those doing the search would not know that information, they don't have any autopsy data to raise any suspicion. At that moment in time , all the effort is being put into missing tourists that they want to find.