Recall that in the winter of 1959, nine hikers disappeared in the mountains of the Northern Urals, who went hiking under the leadership of Igor Dyatlov. A month later, rescuers found their cut tent. And five frozen bodies within a radius of one and a half kilometers from it. The bodies of the rest were found only in May. The hikers were barely clad and not wearing shoes. Some had fatal injuries. According to investigators, the hikers died on the night of February 1-2. But it has not yet been figured out why the guys ran away from the tent into the bitter cold and to their death.
It is known that the first investigator in the criminal case was Vladimir Korotaev. He died in July 2012. At one time, Vladimir Ivanovich told reporters that he was involved in the investigation of the strange death of the hikers, but he was removed from the case when he suggested that the guys died as a result of military tests.
Here is what Korotaev told the newspapermen:
"I urgently reported the results of the autopsy to the members of the government commission, who at that time were drinking in Lozva. But no one needed this infomration: everyone was satisfied with the version of the death of the students from freezing. Soon I was removed from the investigation" ("AiF-Ural", №5, 2004).
Investigating the death of the hikers, Vladimir Ivanovich, obviously, interrogated witnesses, filled out the relevant protocols, which should have been preserved in the criminal case. Should have been, but they are nowhere to be found.
Yuri Georgievich Privalov was a friend of Korotaev. They studied together at school, communicated during their lifetime and even were neighbors in the country side. Now Yuri Georgievich lives in Moscow, where we met with him.
- In 1959, when the hikers died in the Northern Urals, various rumors spread around the city, Privalov recalls. - Allegedly, there were some tests and the guys became victims. I remember we talked about it a lot. And by chance I found out that my school friend Volodya Korotaev was investigating. He was two years younger than me, he worked somewhere in the north and we did not meet then. But in August 1959, we met by chance in the club of our native village of Kamyshevo. I began to question him about that case. Volodya was brief. He said that some kind of fireballs flew over the pass, the origin of which is unknown. He interrogated the Mansi, but they were not involved in the death. And when Korotaev began to build some versions, he was summoned to a conversation at the local KGB department and asked to write that the hikers died from hypothermia. Volodya did not agree, then he was removed from the investigation team and the case was transferred to the criminalist Lev Ivanov.
A few years later, according to Privalov, Vladimir Korotaev looked at the criminal case in the archives of the regional prosecutor's office and was surprised that many of the documents that he personally compiled were not there.
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Years passed and Korotaev met Lev Ivanov, who by that time had already served as the prosecutor of the Kustanai region in Kazakhstan.
Korotaev asked his former colleague why the case was so strangely closed. Ivanov answered simply: "I executed the acts of death as they demanded of me."
In the 1970s, the senior investigator of the prosecutor's office of the Sverdlovsk region Korotaev was invited to Moscow. Under the guidance of the investigator for especially important cases of the RSFSR Prosecutor's Office, Ladeyshchikov, he had to work on one of the episodes of a very complicated case. Korotaev's partner was Boris Uvarov, a senior investigator at the Lipetsk prosecutor's office. Here is what Boris Ivanovich recalls:
- In 1958, Korotaev graduated from the Sverdlovsk Institute and was assigned to some district prosecutor's office, but did not stay there for a long time. He quarreled with the prosecutor because he tried to carry out some kind of scam through Korotaev. Volodya was indignant, quarreled furiously with the authorities. And then he was redistributed to Ivdel, where he worked for more than 10 years.
- How did you meet?
- In 1973 we were both sent to Moscow. We had the hardest work, but the most interesting. KGB officers caught an American spy named Kuhiev. He was in Lefortovo prison. He was accused of taking a picture of a map of the area where a secret oil pipeline was laid as an employee of an institute. He had to give this photo to a foreign agent at the entrance to State General Store (like a mall - ed. note). One spy goes in the flow from the store, and the other - in the opposite direction. And at the moment of transferring the photo, both are caught by the outdoors. But that was not our business. This Kuhiev was friends with some employees of the Prosecutor's Office of the RSFSR and during interrogations began to talk about criminal connections with these guys. It turned out that he worked in the police at one time. And then he, together with the prosecutors, ruined other cases that were unprofitable for them.
All these episodes were to be investigated by Ladeyshchikov and us, as his assistants. We began to raise cases that were ruined, and arrest the perpetrators themselves. Korotaev and I had an episode that took place in Murmansk. A young Azerbaijani was locked up in a maximum security prison. He came from a wealthy family of winemakers. He did not want to work, he constantly smoked. Five times he was brought in for different things. And when the Azerbaijani police tried to detain him for the sixth time, he began to resist and bit off the finger of one of the law enforcement officers in the struggle.
- He bit him on the finger?
- No, he took his finger off. Since in previous times an influential mother always pulled her son out of the cell, this time they decided to exile him to Murmansk. Then the relatives tried to release their troublemaker through the prosecutor's office of the RSFSR. To hush up this case, one of the prosecutors was given a bribe of 3,000 rubles. It was on this bribe that Korotaev and I worked.
- What kind of investigator was Vladimir Ivanovich?
- Korotaev was distinguished by the ability to extract information.
- Forcing testimony?
- Absolutely not! He worked as a psychologist. In general, he was one of the few who knew how to investigate. In Ivdel, he solved dozens of murders, he was acknowledged for this.
- Is it known how he worked on the case of the Dyatlov group?
- I don't know many details about this investigation. But when Korotaev told me about it, I felt that it haunted him. He was working the case from the begining, went to the scene.
- But there is not a single document signed by Korotaev in the case file!
- The case was definitely entrusted to Korotaev. And the absence of materials signed by him indicates that someone was interested in the first documents not being preserved. The group died under mysterious circumstances. He was sure that the military was involved in this.
- Then what?
- And that's it! As soon as he hinted about it, the case was taken away from him and handed over to the forensic prosecutor Lev Ivanov, who was part of the investigation team.
- How can they just removed him from the case?
- Easy. At one time, the Listyev murder case was taken away from me (read more). You see, Korotaev was an honest investigator. After all, he didn’t even join the party, he didn’t want to depend on anyone. And he never appropriated other people's merits.
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The last doubts that Korotaev was really involved in the case of the Dyatlov group were dispelled by Evgeniy Okishev. In 1959, he was deputy head of the investigative department of the prosecutor's office of the Sverdlovsk region. (read more). Here is a conversation we had with him about a month ago.
- Evgeniy Fyodorovich, does the name Korotaev mean anything to you?
- Certainly. Vladimir Korotaev was an investigator in the Ivdel prosecutor's office.
- They say that he started an investigation into the deaths of he hikers?
- Yes. It was from him that we learned about this case.
- How did you learn about the case?
- He called the investigative department and reported that skiers had disappeared in the mountains of the Northern Urals. There was a search, the first corpses were found.
- What happened next?
- Then we got involved in the investigation. Ivanov flew to Ivdel.
- Korotaev said that he was removed from the investigation.
- I don't know anything about this.
The last doubts that Korotaev was really involved in the case of the Dyatlov group were dispelled by Evgeniy Okishev (in the photo).