© NGO "INTERNET CENTER of the Dyatlov group tragedy", 2009
The text of the conversation of the "CENTER for civil investigation of the Dyatlov group tragedy" (NAVIG, ALATAO) with the member of the search for Dyatlov group in 1959 Hamza Fazylovich Syunikaev on February 1, 2009, Yekaterinburg. The text was transcribed from a video recording of the conversation.
Navig: Introduce yourself, what was your role in the search in 1959?
Syunikaev: I am a member of the search of the Dyatlov group. This was in 1959. I served in the troops, they raised us on alarm, took us out, loaded us on helicopters and we flew to the place where Dyatlov's tent was found.
Navig: I will interrupt you along the way. In which unit did you serve?
Syunikaev: Military unit 6602.
Navig: And what did your unit do?
Syunikaev: We were guards of the state... prisoners worked there. And I just started studying at the regimental school. Our task was to catch escapees... also such work as this one.
Navig: What was your rank?
Syunikaev: I was still a cadet then.
Syunikaev: A cadet. A military unit 6602У.
Navig: I see, go on...
Syunikaev: Well, they loaded us on a helicopter, and we arrived there in probably about 2-3 hours. It was February 15-16 (March, ed. NAVIG). Well, they set up... a tent was already pitched. We settled in this tent.
Navig: Who was in the tent?
Syunikaev: There was no one. The tent was empty.
Navig: Empty? Were you transferred by helicopter? A military?
Syunikaev: On a military helicopter MI-8.
Navig: MI-8? All together?
Navig: How many people?
Syunikaev: Well, we are probably... the entire staff was 12 people, a division.
There was also a radio operator with us and one more comrade, I don't know him. That one controlled us in advance. We immediately settled down, and early in the morning...
Navig: One moment, this comrade, whom, you say, you did not know, he was a serviceman of military unit 6602?
Syunikaev: Not from our unit...
Navig: Not from your unit?
Syunikaev: He was not from our unit.
Syunikaev: It was an officer, yes.
Navig: How did you determine that he was an officer?
Syunikaev: He had a cockade on his hat, we had stars. And he had a cockade and he was armed, he had a pistol.
Navig: And what was he dressed in?
Syunikaev: He was dressed in a simple way. He was wearing a sheepskin coat.
Navig: You said yesterday that he was wearing a jacket, not a sheepskin coat, but a jacket.
Syunikaev: Yes, there was a jacket... And from that date we began to search. The task in hand was to find documents if there were any, and find the bodies. We were told that before us only two corpses were found.
Navig: On the slope? Where were you supposed to look for documents? In which place?
Syunikaev: We started the search right there on the slope.
Navig: Where the Dyatlov group tent was?
Syunikaev: Yes, we went down abreast and probed the snow on both sides...
Navig: And what documents? You were given the task to find what kind of documents?
Syunikaev: The diaries and anything else we had to look for....
Navig: And what other documents were you told to find? Did they say anything else?
Syunikaev: No, they didn't say anything else.
- 2 -
Navig: So you were told to find the diaries?
Syunikaev: To find the diaries and the bodies.
Navig: The fact is that the diaries had already been found. So what diaries? Why did they tell you to look for diaries? Any information? It must have been a reason, a connection with something and you were told to look for it on the slope?
Navig: I see, and then?
Syunikaev: Well, the day... the day, probably, the second day had passed, something like that... well, the radio operator was with us... I heard explosions, pops. I said: look, explosions, they are shooting at us again. What do you think was in our heads? I immediately went up to the radio operator and said: look, tell them that we, the search group, won't proceed with the search because we are afraid for our lives.
Navig: One sec, I missed one more question. You were senior in the platoon and were you fully responsible?
Syunikaev: I was a cadet.
Navig: Was there a platoon leader, commander?
Syunikaev: Yes. And the eldest was that comrade. if you count until the end of February... yes, until the end of February we lived there, searched (March. ed. NAVIG). At first we worked under strain. We couldn't go anywhere on our own. He gave assignments and we carried them out. Before lunch do this, after lunch do that. After a while we began to ski on the sly after finishing our assignments.
Navig: Now about the explosions... Where were they? Where in relation to height 1079?
Syunikaev: They were coming from the left side of the tent.
Navig: Which tent? Yours? Where did you spend the night?
Syunikaev: Yes, ours.
Navig: On Auspiya River?
Syunikaev: I think so...
Navig: But then you climbed the slope?
Syunikaev: Yes, yes, yes, we first climbed the slope, and then went down the slope.
Navig: So they were coming from the left side of Auspiya River. And what is the range? What is the distance to the explosions?
Syunikaev: Hard to tell.
Navig: But the sound could be heard clearly?
Syunikaev: The sound could be heard clearly, it's in the mountains...
Navig: So they were only audible? No fire, flashes? Was it during the day or at night?
Syunikaev: Yes, only sound and only during the day, at night we were able to sleep at night.
Navig: And what happened after that? Have you given an assignment? Did you reported this to the observer that went with you?
Syunikaev: I talked to the radio operator. He was with us.
Navig: You talked to him? What did he say?
Syunikaev: He didn't say anything. Didn't talk to us.
Navig: How come? You were in charge, he should have answered you.
Syunikaev: He didn't have to talk. I gave him an order and that's it, goodbye. He was keeping his eyes open afterwards, like a guard on duty.
Navig: He himself did not take part in the probing?
Navig: And you told the radio operator who to send the message?
Syunikaev: I told him to send it...
Navig: Where where?
Syunikaev: Whoever he was in contact with.
Navig: The radio operator was from your military unit?
Syunikaev: No-no. The radio operator was from either Moscow or Ivdel.
Navig: So he knew where to report but you didn't?
Syunikaev: Of course. How could we know?
Navig: This means the connection was closed?
Syunikaev: Of course. But the cannonade stopped afterwards.
Navig: The cannonade sounded for one day?
Syunikaev: Yes Yes Yes. One day only.
Navig: Was it an artillery gunfire or something else?
Syunikaev: You mean from automatic machine guns?... No.
Navig: Submachine guns fire shots, not explosions. Now about the work itself. You said that you found some items there. How did you work on the slope? How did you get started? Where did you stopped?
Syunikaev: We started ... we were given a task... they said here is where the tent was found.
- 3 -
Navig: Where is the scheme of the search?
Кунцевич: Here it is...
Syunikaev: We were not even shown where the bodies were found. They said before us that they had found corpses. (They examine the scheme)
Кунцевич: ...we work with the probes down and here.
Navig: Have you probed to the edge of the forest? To the treeline?
Navig: So you were not told to go any closer to the sources of the 4 tributary?
Syunikaev: No, the forest border is further down.
Navig: You say that you found a flashlight during the search?
Syunikaev: Yes, we found a flashlight right here.
Navig: It is marked on this scheme. It was you who found it?
Syunikaev: Yes, yes, yes, we found it.
Navig: And what kind of flashlight was it? Do you remember?
Syunikaev: I don't remember.
Navig: Well, some kind of ordinary one? Not Chinese? The Chinese was on top of Dyatlov's tent.
Syunikaev: Yes, just the flashlight... God knows what...
Navig: Does it say here if it was Chinese? I don't see... Do you see?
Кунцевич: No, it doesn't say.
Navig: It doesn't say? Well then... (laughing)
Syunikaev: They didn't allow us to in the forest. We didn't see the cedar.
Navig: But you knew that two bodies were found under the cedar?
Syunikaev: We were told that only two were found: a student boy and a girl. The girl was lying on top, they said, he was dragging her. This is what we were told. They told us that this student girl had broken ribs, a broken arm.
Navig: Who told you this?
Syunikaev: There was talk there.
Navig: But wait, there was no one there but your platoon. Did you hear this in Ivdel?
Syunikaev: We were told this... when we got on the helicopter in Ivdel, that they found the leader [of the group] and that with him was a woman that was found there, her arms and legs were broken. They said he died trying to drag her to the tent.
- 4 -
Navig: It was known how they were found, the information was was out there... Although, according to official reports, they were found separately.
Syunikaev: Well, we were told that he dragged her, dragged...
Navig: Kolmagorova? Dyatlov?
Syunikaev: Yes, he dragged her up the mountain ...
Navig: Well, they all went somewhere: up the mountain, or from the mountain, we will never know.
Syunikaev: We were told so. This is how I tell it.
Syunikaev: Any more questions?
Voice: Do you remember who the radio operator was? Nevolin?
Syunikaev: I do not remember. They didn't talk to us!
Voice: Didn't speak?
Syunikaev: Of course. Why talk to us soldiers?
Navig: And about that comrade... What (military, ed. NAVIG) unit do you think he belonged to?
Syunikaev: He was from the KGB.
Navig: Is this your guess?
Syunikaev: Yes. He controlled us. He didn't allow us to make a single step without him knowing.
Navig: Would you like to go somewhere?
Syunikaev: We wanted to go skiing in the area, we were 20-21 years old...
Navig: Another question. Among those photographs that I showed you yesterday... are there familiar faces of someone who was there with you?
Syunikaev: No, I didn't recognize anyone.
Navig: Wasn't that your platoon? There is no one among in these photos that you remember?
Syunikaev: No there is no one that I know.
Navig: So you were there either before or after them. They are probing the slope in the photo.
Syunikaev: Everything was trampled down there already.
Navig: Trampled down? Who else was before you?
Syunikaev: They said that there were miners...
Navig: There are many in military uniforms in the photographs...
Syunikaev: Well, there are these miners...
Navig: And what are the miners doing? They weren't there with you, were they?
Syunikaev: Yes they were, they looked through everything. They were looking for iron.
Syunikaev: Looking for iron? That is, they were not looking for bodies, but iron?
Syunikaev: No, well, for equipment, maybe, if someone is wearing a watch... We were told so. They told us that there were sappers.
Navig: Did you find any diaries?
Syunikaev: No, they didn't find anything.
Voice: And who was the senior in the camp, do you not remember? At the beginning?
Syunikaev: It was this comrade.
Voice: You remember his name?
Voice: Wasn't that Chernyshev?
Syunikaev: I do not know. He wore a similar jacket like this...
Navig: And besides you, there was no one else, no students?
Syunikaev: No no no. We were there. They dropped us off from the military unit, that's all. There was no one else there. But a correspondent came to us from Krasnaya Zvezda [Red Star - ed.]...
Navig: Came straight to the mountain?
Syunikaev: Straight to the mountain. He gave orders. We had a secretary of the Komsomol organization, he talked with him. I don't know what were they talking about.
Navig: Do you remember his name? The secretary?
Syunikaev: Yuri Zauzin.
Navig: And he is alive now?
Syunikaev: I don't know, Yuri Zauzin was from Ukraine...
Navig: You also said...
Syunikaev: Victor Klimenko, he is alive.
Navig: Where does he live?
Syunikaev: In Mamlyutka, in Kazakhstan. This is a colleague who was on the mountain. There was also Volodya Hryapov, he passed away. He had lung cancer. I also underwent three operations, I also had it, the intestines all rotted... they also replaced... also here...
- 5 -
Voice: Do you remember the name of the correspondent?
Voice: Was he from "Krasnaya Zvezda" [Red Star]?
Syunikaev: from "Krasnaya Zvezda".
Navig: Arrived on helicopters?
Navig: How many times?
Syunikaev: They flew in every week.
Navig: And what did they do?
Syunikaev: Brought products, letters...
Navig: And took some from you to send?
Syunikaev: yes they did.
Navig: And did not change anyone from the composition?
Syunikaev: No, they didn't.
Navig: So the correspondent of "Krasnaya Zvezda" [Red Star] flew in on one of the helicopters?
Syunikaev: Yes, there was... I remember that well.
Navig: And then there was no publication in the press? At the "Krasnaya Zvezda"?
Syunikaev: No, nothing.
Navig: Interesting. Did he take pictures? Did he have camera?
Navig: Usually a correspondent carries a camera. They cannot live without it.
Syunikaev: Well, he introduced himself as a correspondent. God knows who he was...
Navig: And talked with the Komsomol organizer? Didn't talk to you?
Syunikaev: Yes, only with a Komsomol organizer. Not with us.
Voice: Could this be Grigoriev by chance?
Navig: Grigoriev did not work for "Krasnaya Zvezda".
Voice: Yes, not in "Krasnaya...
Syunikaev: The pilots paid more attention to the Mansi.
Navig: By the way, the Mansi were there with you?
Syunikaev: They were. They came all the time. As soon as there is a helicopter they were coming to us. Well, what are the pilots to them...
Navig: Where did they come from? Where did they live so they could get so quickly?
Syunikaev: God knows where. Well, they will see a helicopter and come to us on deer. They were buying flour, cartridges, salt... and of course alcohol...
Navig: Do you remember any Mansi? A names? Remember Kurikov?
Syunikaev: Where from... There were all kinds, some were healthy, others were frail.
Navig: And how many of them came? One two?
Syunikaev: No, there were three or four at a time. They were drinking...
Navig: Did the Mansi help you in your search?
Syunikaev: Why would they? They said, we told them not to come here.
Navig: So they met with the students?
Syunikaev: Yes, they met. And they told them not to go...
Navig: At the beginning of the hike?
Syunikaev: Yes, they said we told them not to go... Even deer don't go there. Not a single animal goes there.
Navig: What else did the Mansi say about this case? Did they have any idea why they died?
Syunikaev: Whatever they told us, their interest was purely into the alcoholic. Then they get drunk, and what is there to talk about? Only to separate them.
Navig: They fought?
Syunikaev: Of course.
- 6 -
Navig: And the helicopter that brought you supplies was it civilian or the same one that brought you?
Syunikaev: The same. MI-8.
Navig: MI-8 was later on. Maybe MI-4?
Syunikaev: The same helicopter that brought us.
Navig: Were the pilots military?
Syunikaev: Military. They flew in, unloaded the cargo, took what needed to go out... There were no other helicopters around. No planes, no one flew.
Voice: I have another question: when you arrived, was the tent already removed?
Syunikaev: Why, the tent was standing.
Voice: I meant Dyatlov's tent.
Syunikaev: No, it wasn't, there were only debris left of it.
Navig: Do you remember the state of the snow cover there? There was a lot of snow on the mountain?
Syunikaev: No much snow, we picked up cranberries on the mountain... There was almost no snow there.
Navig: On the mountain? What about the slope?
Syunikaev: On the slope there was little.
Navig: Where you walked and probed, the snow did not fall through?
Navig: So there was a dense crust? And how deep did the probe go?
Syunikaev: A meter, maybe half a meter. There are also stones under the snow.
Navig: Was there a lot of snow in the area of the tent?
Syunikaev: There was snow there, yes...
Voice: Were ever avalanches there?
Syunikaev: What avalanches? We went skiing there, the snow did not fall through. Everything was blown out.
Navig: And where did you collect the cranberries? In the swamp?
Syunikaev: No, we collected them on the slope. Shot partridges.
Navig: When you arrived, was your camping tent up?
Syunikaev: Yes, there was a tent.
Navig: With a stove, right? The way I showed you?
Syunikaev: Yes Yes Yes. The pipe went out there... There was still a pine tree... To have an avalanche, you need to bring snow there by helicopters.
Voice: And another question: you found a large pipe there. Was there any pipe brought there in your presence? Specifically for the structure of the tent? Because they found a piece of pipe 2-3 meters long, thick-walled...
Syunikaev: Yes, it must have been the pipe from the stove.
Voice: Was it long?
Syunikaev: Yes, long. There was a temp, a pipe was put on the temp.
Syunikaev: Thick, thick...
Voice: We found it. It's in this photo.
Navig: If there are no more questions for Hamza Fazylovich, let us take a picture for memento... Hamza Fazylovich, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us the story and answer our questions.
End of recording.