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Witness In Russian Boat Tragedy Buried After Committing Suicide

Flowers on the embankment of the river port of Kazan placed in the memory of those who died in the sinking of the ship "Bulgaria."
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia -- The funeral has been held for a witness in the investigation of last month's Volga riverboat tragedy who was found dead of an apparent suicide, RFE/RL's Russian service reports

Aleksandr Khramov, a regional deputy department head in Russia's river-transport watchdog, the Federal Sea and River Transport Supervisory Service, was found dead in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod on August 22 with what investigators say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Khramov was questioned recently in connection with the sinking of the "Bulgaria" tourist boat last month that killed 122 people, the country's worst riverboat disaster in decades.

The boat had nearly twice as many passengers on board as it was allowed to carry when it sank in a storm close to Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, on July 10.

Investigators say the overloaded boat was built to accommodate no more than 120 people and had not been regularly maintained though the ship was built more than 50 years ago.

RFE/RL's Russian Service quoted some of Khramov's friends as saying he did not give a license to the owner of the company renting the vessel but that "higher-ups" were trying to pin the blame for the tragedy on his department.

Read more in Russian here