Russia buries navy officers killed in submarine fire

Buses carrying the bodies of crew members of a deep-sea research submersible drive to the Serafimovskoye memorial cemetery during a funeral ceremony in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP)
Updated 06 July 2019
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Russia buries navy officers killed in submarine fire

  • The officers died in the Barents Sea on Monday, but the accident was only made public a day later
  • The funerals began amid heavy security, with military police standing outside the cemetery gates

SAINT PETERSBURG: The funerals of 14 Russian navy officers killed in a fire on a nuclear-powered submersible in circumstances the Kremlin has not fully revealed began Saturday in Saint Petersburg amid tight security.
The officers died in the Barents Sea on Monday, but the accident was only made public a day later. Russia has said the details of the tragedy were a “state secret.”
Moscow confirmed the vessel was nuclear-powered for the first time on Friday.
The funerals were closed to the press and took place in the former imperial capital’s historic Serafimovskoye Cemetery.
They began amid heavy security, with military police standing outside the cemetery gates.
“You have to understand that the identities of most of the people who gathered here are secret and their faces cannot be shown,” a representative of the defense ministry said.
An AFP reporter saw 14 vehicles carrying coffins drive into the cemetery.
“This is a great sorrow,” said a young woman clad in black who was attending the ceremony. She held a wreath that read “from friends and classmates.”
Some ordinary Saint Petersburg residents came to the gates of the cemetery to pay their respects to the high-ranking seamen.
“I feel so sorry for them, like they were my own (family),” said 60-year old Natalya Stepanova, who lives nearby.
“They are real heroes,” she said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded state honors to all 14 of the submariners.
The tragedy has echoes of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000, also in the Barents Sea, that claimed 118 lives and shook the first year of Putin’s presidency.
Russian media reported that the 14 seamen will be buried near a monument to the Kursk victims in the Serafimovskoye Cemetery.
Officials have released little information about the accident, saying the crew was studying the sea floor. But Russian media reported the ship was a top-secret nuclear-powered mini-submarine.
On Friday, the defense ministry confirmed for the first time that the vessel was in fact nuclear-powered. It said the fire started in the battery compartment and did not impact the vessel’s nuclear reactor.
Nearly all of the victims were highly decorated officers and included seven Captain First Rank officers — the most senior staff officers in the Russian navy.


New York City Mayor de Blasio ends 2020 presidential bid

Updated 20 September 2019

New York City Mayor de Blasio ends 2020 presidential bid

  • The mayor, who is barred from seeking a third four-year term in New York in 2021, struggled to build a national profile and stand out in a crowded field
  • De Blasio had failed to qualify for a Sept. 12 debate that featured the 10 leading candidates for the party’s nomination

NEW YORK: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said during an MSNBC television appearance that he was dropping out of the 2020 presidential campaign.
De Blasio, 58, launched his candidacy in May with the central campaign message “Working People First,” becoming the 24th Democrat to attempt to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election.
The mayor, who is barred from seeking a third four-year term in New York in 2021, struggled to build a national profile and stand out in a crowded field that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and a long list of experienced politicians.
News of the mayor ending his presidential bid was greeted with sarcasm by Trump.
“Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race,” Trump tweeted early on Friday. “NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!“
De Blasio had registered little support in polls and was eclipsed by progressive US senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
De Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a “central reason” for his decision was the party’s rules for qualifying for televised debates. He had failed to qualify for a Sept. 12 debate that featured the 10 leading candidates for the party’s nomination.
“The bar is so high so early that for a lot of us — clearly, some of my fellow chief executives, governors — couldn’t make that cut,” de Blasio said. “It’s clear to me it’s a high bar, and that it’s one I’m not going to be able to meet.”
De Blasio had emphasized during the campaign a list of progressive wins under his leadership, including universal pre-kindergarten, the end of the policing practice known as stop-and-frisk and paid sick leave, all in a city that has a bigger population, more than 8 million, than most US states.
Most New Yorkers had appeared unenthused about de Blasio’s presidential aspirations. A Quinnipiac University poll in April found more than three-quarters of New Yorkers did not feel he should make a White House bid.