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Theory: Working Backwards

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Theory: Working Backwards

Many idea fragments in this theory were borrowed from other theories, but utilized differently here. You will recognize, I’m sure.

Working backwards:
The starting point for this theory is the Russian government’s reaction to the tragedy. It is the foundation of this theory. There were a lot of levels of the Russian government in 1959, and a lot of organizations involved, such as the KGB, the military, local committees such as Sverdlovsk regional committee, the different parts of The Party, special services, UPI, UPI Youth division, etc. and I don’t for a minute pretend to understand them all and how they all fit together. But there is no doubt there was great consternation about the Dyatlov hikers’ deaths that went all the way up to Khrushchev.

   “After the discovery of the last 4 bodies in the ravine in the first days of May, Kirilenko summoned Korotaev to the investigator's    office and unequivocally explained:
   "Khrushchev is notified that the students froze to death and the case must be closed.” After this visit, Korotaev was unexpectedly    fired from the investigation all together. On May 28, 1959, investigator Lev Ivanov (his successor) closed the case.”

That is something that should stop and make us think right away. The highest levels of government were almost too interested, firing the first investigator Korotaev (why exactly?), giving Ivanov orders to “close the case” prematurely, withholding documents such as histological results on the victims, photos, some diaries, autopsy information, and so on. Why were they so interested?

I have read a few times on this website that of all the cases handled by the investigators, not a single other one had ever stimulated this kind of interest and interference by the government. Of all the cases of murder and hikes gone wrong, the Dyatlov case was unique in this regard. From high up, the government immediately initiated a cover-up, deliberately creating a curtain of mystery and missing information that persists to this day.

Let’s ask why? Why could the government have been so keenly interested in this incident? I propose that something about the tragic death of these 9 people would have resulted in serious “egg on their faces.” Russian officials have always been concerned with the face Russia presents to the rest of the modern world. They want to show the world they are first and best in every area, from moon travel to the Olympics and also maybe development of nuclear power or some new kind of rocket technology. There are many reports of them testing new and bizarre weaponry in the 1950s and 1960s, before nuclear testing was banned in 1963.

So, then, what could have happened here that would have humiliated or embarrassed the Russian top-level officials to such an extent that they had to immediately cover it up? If the hikers had really just died in an avalanche (the official story, supported by the Russian government), there would be reason for sadness and horror, but not all the secrecy, quick closing of the investigation, making investigators sign a non-disclosure agreement, and hiding of information.

There is the possibility that the government, at some level, had a stake in this expedition from the start.

How could that happen?

We know that Bienko was pulled from the expedition and Zolotaryov substituted in his place. In later years, Bienko was asked in an interview if he thought there was some ulterior motive to this and he said no because “in those days, everything was much more honest.” I would probably disagree with that.

I suggest that Zolotaryov was a plant, with a special task. He was given a special camera, to be used just for this task, and a special notebook to record the results. (Yuri Yudin did not know about this camera, as it was not the one Zolotaryov usually carried.)

He was also unusually happy and jolly on this trip, singing, laughing, joking. I think he felt happy that he finally had a purpose.

Zolotaryov hinted to his students and also, according to a journalist, some people on a bus (?) that after awhile, the whole world would be talking about this expedition. He was very happy. He was going to make a name for himself at last.

It is proposed that no other members of the group knew about this. They were innocent and not involved, although as he and TBO instantly became BFFs, Zolotaryov did confide in him. He just couldn’t keep it to himself.

The Event
Zolotaryov and TBO went outside the tent to begin the experiment. They were fully dressed. Zolotaryov set up the special camera, and had the notebook and pencil in his pocket, to record the event.

Let’s propose that Zolotaryov was supposed to test out some new object for the government or the military (a radiosonde? a nuclear low-yield thing? acoustic testing, as Bienko suggests?) and film it. (Vladimir Nagaev,”Military Test with Radiosondes”).

As Zolotaryov launched his object and began to take pictures, something went wrong. An explosion? Gas?

Possibly he or TBO realized the terrible danger and called to the others, or maybe there wasn’t time to call. Inside the tent, Slobodin was just beginning to get ready for sleep and had taken one boot off. Then the explosion happened, the gas pervaded the area, their skin turned orange or dark brown, radiation was released, the “hydrogen sulfide” suggested by Vladimir Nagaev pervaded the tent, bodies were thrown around, chests were crushed, they were essentially blown up, eyes blown out. If some of them had had time to go outside, the blast could have been blown them down the slope.

Needless to say, they all died. TBO’s and Zolotaryov’s skin was greenish-gray. Everyone else’s was orange, black, purple, or brown.

Ivanov’s friend says, “When Ivanov returned from the scene of the tragedy, he told me that if he were superstitious, he would have believed in the devil. What happened to the guys couldn't have happened due to natural causes. …  May 4, 1959, when the bodies of Dubinina, Thibault and Zolotaryov were found. These bodies inside were as if crushed by a powerful Uralmash press.”

I don’t know how radiosondes or nuclear blasts “work.” Would the tent have been shredded? or do these types of explosions only destroy solid bodies? the way tornadoes can smash one thing to smithereens while skipping another altogether, or drive a single stick of hay through a wall.

The government body that had sent Zolotaryov on this expedition was anxiously awaiting communication from him, his report and photos about the outcome of the experiment. They were expecting him to communicate with them by a certain date. When they didn’t hear from him after a day or two, worried because they knew the danger of what they had asked him to do, they sent a helicopter (ice circle later seen by one pilot whose name I can’t find, but who said it was 3m away from the tent and was clearly from a previous helicopter) or crater later seen by Novokreschenov, who described himself as an “artillery man who knows a crater when he sees one”).

The men sent from the government to check on the situation saw immediately that the hikers were all dead.

The four worst wounded bodies were thrown into the ravine, in the hope that the water would help to speed up their decay. Those who weren’t so badly wounded were dragged and dropped into the snow at various places. Hence, the pretty obvious indications that the bodies were moved after death, several of their arms pulled into dragging position.

Zolotaryov’s notebook was taken immediately upon searchers finding his body, by Colonel Ortyukov, head of the military department of UPI.

There are some reports that say the tent was found in a neat and orderly condition, with shoes and boots lined up against one wall, and so on. Others say it was completely topsy-turvy, with everything in basically a frozen, random mess. Some say the tent had flaps and holes, others say it was shredded. I do not know if a tent could be torn up by a blast like this but remain standing?

Flashlight, extra ice axe
The government clean-up men left a flashlight on the top of the tent and forgot an ice axe which they left in the snow. They may have built the fire by the cedar tree to cook over and/or warm themselves while they worked. As has been mentioned several times, that fire was not a roaring fire, not one likely built by expert hikers to keep themselves warm for several hours. It was small. There were matches all around it. I think this would be from the clean-up people.

When these clean-up men reported back to the government what they had found, the government knew immediately that they had to cover it up. After all, they were responsible for killing these guys.

It is proposed that the footprints going from the tent downhill were not the hikers at all, but the clean-up people. Teddy has shared with us the report of the professional investigator who studied the footprints and said they were all made by people in boots.

I don’t think the “den” was a part of any of this; it has always seemed illogical to me that searchers were able to dig down 20 feet at some random place in a huge field of snow, and voila! there is the “den,” precisely where they dug, to the very inch, so it looks in the photos.

The cedar area was apparently commonly used by Mansi hunters and others as a stopping place. The den and the branches chopped off the cedar could have been done by anyone.

The tops of some of the trees were reported as burnt in a kind of random way. Easily the result of this explosion up at the tent.

Clothing exchange
Is it a technique of crime scene cleaners to move clothing from body to body to confuse things? I think the main goal of these clean-up people was to get rid of evidence, confuse other evidence, and make it look like the victims had all simply frozen, as much as possible. So is moving clothing around something they would do? (Is there a handbook for how to clean up and confuse a crime scene?) It has always seemed odd to me that some clothing was found just strewn about in the snow. If these folks were freezing to death, they would not let any scrap go unused, for sure! But professional crime scene confusers might have just dropped some clothing around to make things more confusing.

Flaws in this theory
This theory is rudimentary and does not account for many things. I hope someone will modify it, change it, or refine it. What bothers me the most are the hand-to-hand combat wounds, Dyatlov’s ankle ties, the burns on Krivonischenko’s legs (unless he was burned by the chemical explosion), and the exchange of clothing. It also bothers me that no injuries were to anyone’s limbs, all were to the crucial center of the bodies such as head and chest. If you were blown up by an explosion, wouldn’t your arms and legs be as wounded as your main body and head?

I do think Zolotaryov was planted. His background is the classic one for a mole. But it really doesn’t make a lot of sense that some high level of government would have him join a skiing expedition with some university students to try out a dangerous new weapon. Why not send their own group of specially trained people instead of using this group?

I am sure not all bodies, parties, and levels of government knew about this secret exercise; therefore, some of them were continuing to try their best to solve the mystery, while others didn’t seem to care much, do a thorough investigation, or even behave with curiosity, as if they already knew something. Others, obviously not “in the know,” asked such things as if there was any evidence the students were trying to flee to North America, and other indications that they had not been clued in. The drastic change in Ivanov’s behavior after the discovery of the 4 in the ravine, followed by his closing the case with a vague conclusion, was an indication that he did know or suspect something.

Other theories
I do like Per Inge Oestmoen’s and Jean-Daniel Reuss’s theories about murder and torture, and so many times I have tried to accept one of these two theories, but I can’t understand how or why anyone ANYONE would go to such lengths to torture and brutalize young strangers. It makes no sense. There was no personal vendetta against them. Can you just walk up to some people and do such barbaric cruel things for no reason?

At any rate, I do think the Russian government had a stake in this expedition, I do think Zolotaryov was the mole, and the government knew long before anyone else that something had gone wrong; they had to close the case and hide the evidence to avoid international embarrassment.

So there you have it, please feel free to tear it apart and see what you can do with the pieces.

I am impressed with this analysis. Where I run into problems is that if this was high stakes test gone wrong, leaving corpses around is only inviting forensic investigators to get to the truth. That would be the last thing a conspirator/patriot would want.
I hope more comments are posted,

amashilu, I appreciate all the thought you've presented. I've wondered about Zolotaryov, also. He was fired from a couple of jobs, accused of punching his aunt on occasion, gave a bribe so that he could get into an apartment quicker and filled out job applications using different birth dates. I believe he must have felt unfairly persecuted because his brother had been shot as a traitor during the war. It's difficult to imagine that on the Dyatlov hike he was calm, collected and respected. It's as if he had become a new man.
Two years ago I contacted the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act for any information it might have on Zolotaryov. I received a letter about a week later stating that "the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The existence or nonexistence of records is classified and its intelligence sources and methods of information protected by the National Security Act." Good luck trying to understand what that means!

Zolotaryov didn't get away with anything, did he?

Who can say if Zolotaryov was trying to pass secret information to the CIA? Like so much speculation in this strange mystery, it remains a possibility. After the war, Zolotaryov never seemed to fit in. He tried military school twice, but for whatever reason never finished. As I pointed out in my post above, his behavior was erratic and got him into trouble. Plus, he had his brother's war time crime hanging over him. If he wasn't loyal to the Soviet Union, I can understand why.


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