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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Monument to Kursk Unveiled

APA girl kissing a portrait Tuesday of her father, who died on the Kursk submarine.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Friends and relatives of many of the 118 sailors killed in the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine gathered at a St. Petersburg cemetery to unveil a monument on the disaster's third anniversary Tuesday.

The monument, made of a black granite cube carved with waves and meant to symbolize the ocean depth, is topped with a storm petrel -- a small bird that symbolizes trouble.

"This monument will always remind us of the tragedy, and we'll always be faithful to the memory of our men," said Vladimir Mityayev, father of Kursk sailor Alexei Mityayev.

An explosion shook the Kursk during exercises on Aug. 12, 2000, sending the vessel to the Barents Sea floor. All 118 men on board were killed. Thirty-two of the sailors, including Kursk Captain Gennady Lyachin, are buried at St. Petersburg's Serafimov Cemetery.

City and navy officials joined relatives in laying flowers at the monument, which is inscribed with the words "Don't despair!" -- a quote from a letter scrawled out by Lieutenant Dmitry Kolesnikov after the explosion while many of the sailors were still alive and waiting for a rescue that did not come in time.

Afterward, relatives gathered around the graves of their loved ones.

"It will never get easier to cope with what has happened," said Svetlana Baigarina, as she stood with her family at the grave of her husband, Murat Baigarin. "You can imagine how hard it can be when a woman has two sons, who need a father so much."

Baigarina said she was not satisfied with the official investigation into the disaster, which ended in July 2002, concluding that no one was to blame for the accidental explosion of a practice torpedo and that none of the trapped sailors could have been saved even if the navy had reacted more quickly.

"I want to know the whole truth. And I know that we don't know it yet," Baigarina said.

A Moscow lawyer representing about 40 families of Kursk sailors has been pushing for the investigation to be reopened.

However, Irina Lyachina, the captain's widow, said she is against a new investigation.

"The government and all the people who were in charge of the investigation have done everything they could," Lyachina was quoted by Interfax as saying.