«My opinion is that there are no mysteries in the case of the death of the Dyatlov group»
Sergey Shkryabach, a veteran of the investigating authorities and a mountaineer, commented on the air of Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda his opinion on the results of the inspection of the Russian IC of the case of the tragic death of a group of hikers led by Igor Dyatlov in the Urals in 1959
All rights belong to Komsomolskaya Pravda. Authors Nikolay Varsegov, Vladimir Sungorkin, Natalya Varsegova and Ramil Farzutdinov
Veteran of the investigating authorities and mountaineer Sergey Shkryabach.
Photo: Personal Archive
Recall that in the winter of 1959 in the mountains of the Northern Ural nine hikers disappeared, who went hiking under the guidance of Igor Dyatlov. A month later, rescuers discovered their cut tent. And within a radius of one and a half kilometers from it - five frozen bodies. The corpses of the rest were found only in May. Almost all the hikers were barefoot and half-dressed. Some had fatal injuries. It is still not solved why the hikers ran away to the bitter cold and their doom.
According to the former investigator for particularly important cases and the head of the investigative units of various levels, Sergey Shkryabach, Dyatlov’s group died because in the storm the hikers chose an unsuitable place to stay for the night and made a camp, having dug deep into the snow on the mountainside. As a result, an avalanche descended into a landslide covered their tent. In a hurry after leaving it in a gale and strong frost, all members of the group died.
Sergey Shkryabach came to our studio radio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" (97.2) to talk more about this tragedy.
The investigation was doing baby steps
- Sergey Yakovlevich, we have been dealing with the history of the Dyatlov Pass for three years already. And during this time we have not formed a specific version of what happened. We read your conclusion and wanted to discuss this story with you, as an expert and a climber. In the case of the avalanche, it is not entirely clear why they ran so far from the tent (1.5 km, - Ed.)? Could stay in place and dig up the tent.
- They fled to the forest because it was the only way out for them. The same thing, probably, we would have done with you in order to survive in this storm. It was necessary to create some conditions. At least a fire. On the slope blown they would not have lit. They did not know exactly how far the forest was, since they actually had no map. I studied this question. The exact maps of the General Staff at that time were classified. They had some forestry maps. But this is not serious.
- This, by the way, completely breaks the spyware version. If the KGB had sent hikers to the mountains, they would have a decent map.
- This was the first ascent. They followed a route that was not known. Therefore, when they jumped out of the tent, they intuitively went down, not knowing that there were three stone ridges and icing there. Their movement was very heavy. Many had minor injuries. They did not even reach the forest, stopping at a lone cedar. Severe frost, wind, they are half-dressed ... For more than two hours no one could stretch under such conditions.
- Three of them were very well dressed. That is the question.
- No, it was they who later dressed, taking off their clothes from the dead Doroshenko and Krivonischenko.
They didn't stand a chance
- And why did they climb cedar?
- For firewood.
- We all know very well that in life we will not climb on any cedar behind the branches when it is full of dry wood.
- Nothing like this. There was nothing there. Cedar alone stood. There you can see even by photos. And they needed a fire.
- There were twigs, dry wood, fir branches. They covered the flooring with it.
- Not them. This is the last four that went further into the ravine.
- It is known that in the fire were quite thick branches. One even burned out. Why they did not maintain the fire?
- How it really happened there, I do not know. By itself, the fire will not save from the cold, if you do not create conditions.
- Dig a den?
- At least.
- We assume that there was a snowstorm. But the corpses in relation to the tent lay in a straight line. As if they saw a tent.
- Not. They just walked down the slope. And about the same direction they tried to go back..
- In its wake? Why was the end of the tent open? The horse was visible.
- From the tent down were protruding tracks. These columns were due to the fact that the wind blew a layer of snow about 40 cm thick around the tracks pressed by the feet. This means that the tent also initially had about as much snow, which was also boldly blown away.
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The military has nothing to do with this
- Some of your colleagues are surprised that the case was closed at the end of May, when even the snow did not come down in those places. Why did the investigation turn so sloppy?
- I tell you as a practitioner, as an investigator I explain that there are situations when the prosecutor sees that you will not find anything in this matter, but there is a stir around him. And he stops the case. Although then it was impossible to do. Yes, Ivanov was a competent investigator, but he did not involve people who understand something in extreme situations, avalanches, into the investigation. He did not even collect weather information.
- You say that Ivanov did not attract any specialists. But Sverdlovsk athletes Maslennikov and Akselrod, and representatives of the Moscow Tourism Federation worked on the scene.
- Specialists arrived at the site when the tent was already excavated. Everybody, including Maslennikov. Therefore, they did not understand the situation. The entire slope was trampled by this time.
- Why did they have to bring mountaineers from Moscow?
- Because the consent to go ahead with this expedition was issued by the regional tourism federation. So they had to figure what went wrong with it.
- Why did they submit their report to the CPSU Central Committee?
- Sorry, nine people died! And one takes responsibility for this. The Central Committee, most likely, received many complaints. So the Committee requested information.
- Military was greatly involved in the search. There is a version that they were called because the death of hikers is the fault of some military department.
- This is not true. Where else to get so many people to search? You need to bring the military. So they combed the whole huge slope.
Investigators were amateurs
- There is an opinion that the existing criminal case is a fake, and the real one lies somewhere else.
- You can think what you want.
- So the lack of professionalism of the investigation played a significant role?
- The investigation simply approached the situation amateurishly. Prosecutors saw the tent, which was already excavated, and began to draw conclusions based on what they saw. (The snow on the tent was really raked, the search engines Slobtsov and Sharavin cut down with an ice pick, - ed. note). You shouldn't do that.
- Sergey Yakovlevich, have you been surprised that there are not many procedural documents in the case? For example, protocols on the decision of a forensic medical examination.
- There were documents, they just did not arrive at the right time. Sometimes they were not fastened properly, but they were there.
- What do you think about the opening date of the case - February 6, 1959? (This date is indicated on the cover, and the protocol of initiation of a criminal case of February 26, 1959, - ed. note).
- Sometimes investigators make mistakes. I had a situation when I interrogated an assassin per hire, it was Sunday. But I questioned him on Saturday. The case came to court, only there could I see the confusion with the dates.
Injuries – from snow and radiation – from factories
- Many forensic pathologists are surprised by the nature of the injuries on the hikers bodies.
- You mean those found in the creek? As a specialist in murder cases, I will say that a bilateral fracture is a result of pressure. According to the forensic report, there are no point marks of blows and hemorrhages on the bodies. This suggests that there was a wide area of the application. Such damage can occur from pressuring with great force.
- And where did they get these injuries?
- They were found at the source of the Lozva tributary. In a place that does not freeze completely. It is covered with snow first, then the snow melts and freezes, and the water below remains running. As in any river. And there was a grotto, over which accumulated a lot of snow and ice. Hikers decided to hide from the cold in this place (not knowing that there is a grotto under them). They made the flooring, brought some clothes there, the vault of the grotto collapsed and the four of them collapsed down. They covered almost 5-meter layer of snow and ice. Hence the injuries.
- Why testing for radiation then?
- They tried to find out maybe some data. They thought that something else had happened, and not an avalanche. Investigator Ivanov had a poor understanding of the mechanism of this investigation. He was not on the pass at the time of the excavation of the tent, Ivdel prosecutor wasn't present either. He arrived only two days later.
- But radiation was found!
- radiation was found on the clothes of hikers who worked in closed factories. That is, perhaps, they brought it to the pass from the factories.
You can check the count on the spot
- Hikers, unfortunately, died and die often. But why such an interest in this story?
- The whole problem lies in the fact that the investigator made a vague decision on the case with the formulation of elemental force. Intuitively, he was right, because it is an overwhelming natural force, but he did not have proof. Did not carry out the analysis. This is where so many versions came from and people are still puzzled over various theories. And the only most clear-cut version of the development of events is what I have outlined. Everything else is mystification. There were no traces of unauthorized persons at the scene of the incident, traces of fire, explosion - nothing like that was found.
- In your opinion, should the case be reopened?
- No. To reopen a case one needs newly discovered specific circumstances. And we do not have that.
- What about exhumation?
- In this case, we can only see the nature of the fractures. And that's all. This procedure will lead to nothing more.
- Anyway, we have a feeling that there is some kind of mystery.
- For many years I worked as an investigator and investigated so many different situations, criminal cases, that I clearly know that very often everything is much simpler than we initially think, and everything ultimately yields to logical judgment. There is no mystery in this matter. You can, of course, conduct an investigative experiment - estimate the territory, based on the materials of the case, roughly outline where the tent was, see the structure of this place, the nature of the rocks, snow cover, intensity and direction of the winds, as well as simulate the mechanism and sequence of movement of each member of the group. And as a result, analyze the situation together with specialists who can be drawn from various structures, including the Emergency Ministry Tsentrospasa.
Watch documentary “Dyatlov Pass. End of the story?"
Sergey Yakovlevich Shkryabach, 3rd class state councilor of justice, honorary employee of the prosecutor's office and honorary member of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. Prior to retirement, he served as deputy head of the Main Department of Criminalistics of the TFR. He has 30 years of experience in the investigation of murders and other particularly serious crimes. He also went in for mountaineering for many years, took part in more than 20 expeditions in the mountains of the Caucasus, Pamir, Tien Shan, Sayan and Altai, as well as in the Arctic and Kamchatka.
There are many questions that haven't been answered.
I am sure that not all readers will agree with the conclusions of the respected veteran investigator Sergey Shkryabach. I have doubts too. For example, the so-called snow board fell on the back of the tent. In the photo, the rear part is really collapsed, although it is not at all shifted along the course of the supposed “avalanche”. But the front part is standing - indicative of not a great amount of snow if any. Suppose that this snow collapse in the night caused panic among hikers, and they jumped out into the cold. But how long could this panic last among mentally stable people? 1-1.5 minutes. Then they will realize that there is no danger. Consequently, they could return to the tent and dig out clothes and shoes. This is not difficult, since there was an ice pick and skis next to the tent. But no! They run away from the avalanche, and not in the side, but straight down its course - down. That is, risking to be overtaken by the avalanche. What gives?!
Another question: why did the fire went out under the cedar? On the photos of the deceased under the cedar and in the ravine we see that the guys were in the woods, and there was no shortage of dry wood. But for some reason, the guys climb high on a cedar, breaking off branches for a fire? And the fire was originally a good one, judging by the burnt thick branches. But for some reason two strong guys died at a blazing fire? And finally, why did Dyatlov and Kolmogorova started towards the tent without shoes? And Rustem walked in one valenka. And at the same time, Zolotaryov and Tibo, remaining in the ravine, wore felt boots and burkas respectively. Even if the ones with footwear were injured, they still could have lent their shoes to those marching to the tent. And the legs of the wounded could be rapped in rags. I experimented it on myself: in the winter in a village I ran in the snow wearing only in my socks. This is crazy. And my wife Natasha, in the winter on the pass, could run only 50 meters in three pairs of socks. Why couldn't one of the guys go to the tent instead of Zina?
There are a lot of questions with no logical answers, and which no consequence can clearly explain. And therefore we are not ready to put an end to this investigation...