The search of Dyatlov group was coordinated from Ivdel by the local prosecutor Tempalov and representatives of the UPI Yuri Blinov and chairman Lev Gordo.
Yuri Blinov is a member of the Bureau of the Tourist Section of the UPI, and the leader of the group of hikers who, along with Igor Dyatlov's group, was traveling on the same train, then on the same bus, from Sverdlovsk through Serov - Ivdel to the village of Vizhay. Tempalov received instructions from the secretary of the Ivdel city committee of the KPSS, Prodanov, to start searching for the missing hikers (and Prodanov himself was ordered from Sverdlovsk by regional party and state authorities). From Sverdlovsk was ordered aerial search. Prodanov requested the engineer of the Energo Lesokombinat Mikhail Timofeevich Dryahlih, who communicated with Dyatlov group in the 41st district, to join the search.
On Feb 22, 1959 the only fact that is clear is that Dyatlov group is missing. It was still to be found what route did they take. The search operation needed witnesses. Mansi Nikolay Bahtiyarov had said that at end of January a group of hikers (8 people, including one or two women) stayed overnight at his brother Petr Bahtiyarov’s Yurt. Mansi settlements in the area, such as Suevat Paul, consisted of several yurts (nomadic tents), and all of the people were carrying the last last name. The small settlement were called the Bahtiyarov Yurt, Anyamov Yurt, Handybin Yurt... "In the yurt we talked to the hikers. They said that they are going to the mountains but didn’t specify which one exactly. They only asked which way is better to go – on the river or some other way, and they went along the road toward the river". Now we know that these students were from the city of Rostov and headed to Vels peak. Igor Fomenko led this group. In February 1959 the lead had to be checked although Bahtiyarov Yurt was not on Dyatlov group way to Otorten. But then again, the rescuers didn't have a map to follow.
Engineer Mikhail Timofeevich Dryahlih and UPI sports club chairman Lev Gordo landed in Vizhay with a helicopter. They took forester Kuznetsov and flew to North Toshemka river to the yurt of Alexander Prokakopevich Anyamov (Mansi). They talked to him. Then flew to the upper sources the Vizhay river, above the tributary of Anchuchа. They landed, Dryahlih and Kuznetsov visited Mansi Bakhtiyarov 5 yurts. After that they flew west to the Urals and saw a clear track of the Mansi dog sled that went from Bakhtiyarov yurt Vizhay river 1.5 km west to the Urals. No traces of the missing hikers were found.
This is an overview of the testimonies of Mansi. They are contradictory to each other, and don't add up. The impression is that there are big gaps in between, and then something else is said, not bearing out previous testimony. Let's go over the testimonies of Mansi in 1959.
- 2 -
Bahtiyarov were first to be questioned because Nikolay Pavlovich had said that at end of January a group of hikers (8 people, including one or two women) stayed overnight at his brother Petr Bahtiyarov’s Yurt.
Vizhay, Bahtiyarov Yurt and the direction to Otorten
In the Case files are mentioned the following members of the Bahtiyarov family:
Nikita Vladimirovich (30) Case files 82-83, he has sister Nina
Nikolay Yakimovich (29) Case files 84-85
Prokopiy Savelyevich (17) Case files 86-87
Pavel Vasilievich (60) Case files 223
Sergey Savelyevich (21) Case files 224, Sergey and Prokopiy are brothers
Petr Yakimovich (34) Case files 225-226, Nikolay and Petr are brothers
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Krasnobaev is Chief of preparatory work in 8th forestry district, lives in Ivdel region. He flew on the Feb 26 to Bahtiyarov yurt to question Mansi if they have seen Dyatlov group. In his testimony on Mar 7, 1959 (Case files 54-55) he mentions the following additional Mansi: Timofey, Alexander, Kiril and Sonya
They are questioned about different matter - prayer stones, shrines and sacred places
Nikita Vladimirovich Bahtiyarov - Mar 10, 1959 (Case files 82-83)
"I heard that they suspect that Mansi scared the hikers and they died. I don't believe this to be true. There is not a single case where Mansi attacked Russians, there is no reason for this. Mansi payer mountain prayer is located near the Bahtiyarovs yurts 30 km in the upper Vizhay river. On this mountain no one is forbidden to go Russian men and women, same as the Mansi. This mountain has never been guarded. There aren't any valuable things there. How it was before I don't know. The prayer stones have never been moved, or rather they can not be moved and Mansi go to this mountain, but such religious Mansi are not that many. There aren't any other sacred Mansi places."
Distance from upper Vizhay river to Lozva and Auspiya upper sources is approximately 50 km. The notion is conflict between Mansi and Russians in general, not even specifying passing by cross-country skiers.
Nikolay Yakimovich Bahtiyarov - Mar 10, 1959 (Case files 84-85)
"Yesterday, i.e. March 9, 1959 Mansi Nikita Bahtiyarov and I were at the store by the river Orasu Pru and one drunk that I did not know came up to us and said: "hikers are missing probably Mansi killed them". We told him that's doubtfully the case, since Mansi have never killed anyone and they don't have a reason to kill hikers."
This photo of Bahtiyarov’s family below was made by students from MGU in 1956 that were going to Mt. Otorten.
Varvara Kuzmovna Bahtiyarova and her children Miron and Albina, 1956
- 3 -
The yurt stood on the left bank of the Vizhay River, Petr lived there with his wife Nina Vladimirovna. Photos are taken by hikers on a trek category III of difficulty in the Northern Urals, 1954. Route: Moscow-Sverdlovsk-Vizhay-101-100-Yurts in Anchug-mine-Vels river-Vels river-Moscow.
- 4 -
Aleksey Alekseevich Anyamov
Aleksey Alekseevich (41) father of Andrey Alekseevich
Andrey Alekseevich (21) son of Aleksey Alekseevich
Andrey Alekseevich (58) brother to Aleksey Alekseevich - Маr 23, 1959 (Case files 230-231)
Nikolay Pavlovich (23) - Apr 2, 1959 (Case files 261-262)
All the answers start with Answering the questions at hand, but we never see these questions. Of course judging by the answer one could guess the questions. Nikolay Pavlovich Anyamov - Apr 2, 1959 (Case files 261-262)
"There are no other people in these areas. There are no wild tribes in our region. And Mansi did not meet anyone. If they had we would have known. We learned that hikers were missing after the Feb 20, 1959."
What other people were they asked about? Wild tribes? Thе investigator had some preconception about other indigenous people in the area. Andrey Aleekseevich Anyamov - Маr 23, 1959 (Case files 230-231)
"I personally never saw in the area another group of five people who are allegedly afraid of Mansi and who did not stay in Ivdel, I haven't heard such from other Mansi either."
The question must have been: "Have you seen a group of five people, strangers, who d not live in Ivdel, and only passed through the area?"
And what is up with "allegedly afraid of Mansi"? Why should these rouges be afraid of Mansi? These means according to the investigators unknown source these vagabonds must have previous confrontations with Mansi? Where does this information come from?
Mansi were hunters, when away form their yurts they carry their guns. These strangers are supposedly afraid of the Mansi because they do not have weapons, there is no other reason. Mansi had to register their weapons in Ivdel. Any other weapons would have been illegal, and the punishment was severe.
What is interesting here is not the answer but where did the question come from.
- 5 -
Stepan Nikolaevich Kurikov
Kurikov Stepan Nikolaevich - Mansi shaman, leader of a rescue group Feb 23, 1959
Kurikov Grigoriy Nikolaevich - Mansi, deputy of the Ivdel City Council, interpreter in the interrogations, Stepan's brother (Case files 232)
Artemiy Vladimirovich Gorbushin - Mar 20, 1959 (Case files 228-229)
Officer in charge of Ivdel City Police Department, testified what Grigoriy Nikolaevich Kurikov had said about the Ostyaks:
"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."
Kurikov Grigoriy Nikolaevich - Mar 23, 1959 (Case files 232)
"I personally do not think that anyone from Mansi attacked Russian hikers, as this never happened before. I would still hear from Mansi if anybody attacked the hikers because I keep my ears open. But there is no reason for Mansi to attack hikers. Sacred mountain, I know for sure is in the upper sources of the river. Nobody lives there in neither summer or winter. The sacred mountain is not guarded by any one. Russian people are allowed to go there. 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. There are no Mansi people who do not go to Ivdel. There were no outsiders in the area, that Mansi did not know about. We would have known about strangers, that is, because Mansi hunt and would have met them. There are no Mansi in the region that would have treated Russians badly."
So Grigoriy Nikolaevich Kurikov doesn't know where the sacred mountain is in the beginning of March (Gorbushin testimony), but he does on Mar 23. Could it be because Bahtiyarovs said where the sacred mountain is on Mar 10, 1959? How about the five people? Grigoriy Nikolaevich denies to have said anything like that. On one hand we have Deputy of the Ivdel City Council, and on the other hand a Militia officer. Nobody bothers to follow up on the discrepancies in their testimonies?
- 6 -
Upper Lozva is Otorten, upper Auspiya is Kholat Syakhl (Peak 1079)
Andrey Aleekseevich Anyamov - Маr 23, 1959 (Case files 230-231)
"I clarified that in January-March, in 1959, I never saw hikers anywhere. And only saw tracks of hikers - on the road there were tracks of narrow skis. How many people could not be determined. I saw tracks on the Lozva river 1,5 - 2 km above Auspiya. The tracks were going towards Auspiya river, and then to the Urals Mountains. I can not tell the exact date when I saw the tracks, but it was at the end of January or early February 1959. Tracks were swept up on clear places, and in the forest powdered with snow. I went skiing, together with me were three more people. Anyamov Andrey (same name as mine) Alekseevich, my nephew, Anyamov Nikolay Pavlovich, another of my nephews, and Mansi Tseskin Konstantin. On the hunt, the four of us left the village of Suevat-Paul and hunted in the woods around the Auspiya. Russian hikers are nowhere to be seen. When we hunted it was good weather, and also there were bad days."
Nikolay Pavlovich Anyamov - Apr 2, 1959 (Case files 261-262)
"In early February 1959, we, i.e. I, Andrey Anyamov, and another Andrey Anyamov, went hunting. We hunted for 9 days in the forest and during that time we saw tracks of narrow skis, which were covered with 15 cm of snow, less in the forest. We thought that some kind of expedition went to the mountains. We saw the tracks along the Auspiya river on the 10th of February 1959. When we came home we said that we saw tracks of skiers. The hikers themselves we did not see or hear."
Two people that were together say different things about where the narrow ski tracks were spotted. On April 2 tracks along Lozva river are no longer present in the testimony.
Upper Lozva is Otorten, upper Auspiya is Kholat Syakhl (Peak 1079)
It looks like the investigators needed a testimony where Lozva is not mentioned. Were the testimonies cooked on the go, as the investigation unfolded? The testimony from Mar 23 is given by 58 old Mansi, who could be called later own confused due to his age. How could he tell the direction of the tracks is not clear. Then the young hunter age 23 comes into the picture with a testimony from Apr 2 that says nothing about tracks on Lozva river.
Pavel Vasilyevich Bahtiyarov - Mar 16, 1959 (Case files 223)
"Prayer mountain is 30 km from us in the upper reaches of Vizhay river. The mountain is visited by all Russian men and women and Mansi. There is no prohibition whatsoever for the Russians to go to the mountain. I have never been in the upper reaches of Lozva river and always hunted along the rivers Ivdel and Vizhay."
Why is he mentioning upper Lozva river? There is nothing in the context of the previous narration unless he was asked for Lozva river.
Boris Efimovich Slobtsov - Apr 15, 1959 (Case files 298-230)
"I was present when we found under same cedar a cloth belt of dark color with tassels at the ends. I don't know who this item belongs to. The length of this item is about 80 cm, the width is about 10 cm, looks like a belt or strap, with which the Mansi pull loads, except the object would be not strong enough for this purpose."
- 7 -
Mansi sanctuary on Lozva river
Georgiy Ivanovich Ryazhnev - Mar 6, 1959 (Case files 42-43)
Chief of the 1st forestry department of Energo Lesokombinat in 41st district in 1959
"I don't know anything about Mansi having sacred mountains and paying stones in our area, but I have heard from people that they have the sacred pit on Lozva river."
Left arrow shows the sanctuary, the right arrow shows petroglyphs that some people see
Photo taken on Jan 28, 1959 Krivonischenko camera (film 1) frame 2
This statement is opening the door for the speculation that Dyatlov group must have passed by a sacred pit with uncle Slava when they were using his horse drawn sleigh to carry their backpacks. Yudin was still with them, he returned next day. There is nothing to support that the hikers even knew about the sacred pit they drove by, but this is a theory.
The Sacred Places of the Ural Mountains and Forests 2004(Культовые памятники горно-лесного Урала) is a study by archeologist and ethnologist Valeriy Nikolaevich Chernetsov. The author writes about of Lozvinzkaya, or Sheytan pit. Women were not allowed in these sacred places. In Dyatlov group there are two girls. In the book Chernetsov says that when he was traveling in these places in 1937 he was told that on Ushma river there is a Bahtiyarov clan sanctuary.
Soviet ethnographer and archaeologist Chernetsov (smoking a pipe, hair combed back) in the first Mansi settlement Toshem Paul, 1938
Ushma river is tributary to Lozva river south of 2nd Northern (see map below). The photo from Krivonischneko's camera was taken on the Jan 28, 1959 when the group was leaving 2nd Northern. Lozvinzkaya, or Sheytan pit is near District 41. So this photo is not of the Lozvinzkaya cave.
Bahtiyarov family did not take part in the search for the missing hikers and when questioned about their whereabouts they got confused in their testimonies. The Bahtiyarovs were considered a respected shamanistic clan.
There is Nikita Yakovlevich Bahtiyarov, born in 1873, who lived in Ivdel district. In 1938, he was sentenced to five years in prison camps. The statement on Bahtiyarov’s arrest reads:
"He is convicted of being an illegal shaman among the Mansi people, a big kulak who has large herds of deer unknown to the state authorities, on whose pasture he exploits the poor Mansi. He leads anti-Soviet agitation among Mansi against the unification of Mansi into collective farms, against sedentarism, incites hatred among Russians and the existing Soviet system, claiming that the Russians bring only death to Mansi. Bahtiyarov annually collects all the Mansi to one of the spurs of the Ural Range, called Vizhay, where he performs sacrifices on the occasion of a religious holiday that lasts up to two weeks."
Nikita Yakovlevich got out of prison in 1943. He might still have been around at the time of the events.
Investigating the Mansi could explain the presence of KGB since they were not only responsible for the national security of the state and defending the borders. Inside the Soviet Union the Committee for State Security was mainly entrusted with anti-soviet propaganda, fighting saboteurs and terrorists. But there is another role too, to subdue any nationalist movements and ethnic hatred.
Mansi landmarks added to the Dyatlov Pass Google map. You can uncluttered your view by selecting and deselecting the layers from the icon to the left.