Tragic accidents, of course, happen every day. Political climate has no bearing on them. In the case of the DPI, that in all likelihood includes an avalanche, hurricane, ball lightning, infrasound, a falling tree and so forth. Theories that stem from the Cold War, political climate of the day include an exploded missile, bomb tests, the hikers seeing a military installation they were not supposed to see, involvement by the KGB or CIA, etc.
Maybe what seemed like an accident was not. An example would be a snow slab that was caused by the geological team dropping dynamite that night by spotlight. An explosion farther up the slope could have caused a slab of snow to slide toward the tent. Or a slab loosened by the shock waves from a military bomb test. Both of these are unlikely, but my point is what seems like a clear cut natural disaster may not be.
"1079" posits that the tragedy had a natural cause (a falling tree), and then a politically motivated coverup in fear of retribution by the authorities.
Opinions or thoughts?
Any cover-up needs to involve culpability. This is the weakest part of the book. If it was widely known across the Soviet Union back then that the rouble stopped with the local authorities, who would be blamed for anything accidentally happening on their patch, then we'd have DPI's across that entire country, deaths being restaged, bodies with horrific injuries passed off as hypothermia, and a remarkable statistical absence of Acts Of God.
In the context of a tree accident, and with foresters known to be busy clearing areas of interest determined by geologists for later core drilling operations, I think an aerial accident involving a log falling from one of the many overhead transits made by helicopters, or being jettisoned above the cedar (potentially explaining the broken branches) fits a lot better. The pilot might not see the tent beneath the evergreen canopy, which unlike deciduous trees (obviously absent their leaves then) is wider lower down.
I have had my doubts the hikers would be able to sleep in a forest during a hurricane due to the noise. We know from the diaries that they were sleeping in late, and due to the 8 hours of available daylight any tree clearance operation would I'm sure have to begin long before they got up, providing in probability terms many more opportunities for an accident. And clearly, with a sawn off tree trunk/broken tree branches on or rolled against the tent, those responsible are forced to either admit their negligence or remove the tree (with a helicopter) and restage the scene.
What the book provides is the first major new evidence in the case for 62 years, that there was a third party up there other than a lone Mansi, potentially proximal to the hikers, and they were conducting potentially dangerous operations, regular overhead flights, and using explosives, and it is entirely correct that people should use this new information and tailor it into new theories.
I too have wondered if it's possible explosives might be dropped from helicopters after dark, at least as a quick way of X marking the spot and splintering smaller trees, the hikers of course completely unaware their tent is pitched in or near one of those areas of interest. The scale of the work, the inaccessibility, the brutal cold affecting activity on the ground, could all lead to a tragic accident.
Something has to explain Semyon's night photographs, the clearest of which shows a bright light, which appears in one image to be of a directional beam shining down, the camera receiving a snowflake to the lens from looking up. Was he trying to document what was happening, as imperfectly as he could? The very fact his film was kept from public view for 50 years, dismissed as all the result of water damage, communicates to me that a cover-up was involved. But unless I missed it (?) I don't recall the book even mentioning Semyon being found with a camera around his neck.