Moscow, 23 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly returned to Moscow today, cutting short his visit in Murmansk with relatives of the crew from the sunken submarine "Kursk." Interfax says Putin was expected to attend a ceremony for the sub's crew, but decided not to do so. Interfax says the ceremony was eventually canceled at the request of the victims' families, who want to wait until the bodies of the submariners are recovered.
Putin's departure from Murmansk followed a meeting with the crew's relatives in the naval base of Vidyayevo, homeport of the "Kursk." Interfax says the meeting took place in a tense and hostile atmosphere. Putin acknowledged that the Northern Fleet's rescue services had been poorly equipped to handle the "Kursk" crisis. He promised grieving relatives financial aid.