Second Criminal Probe Opened Over Russian Coal-Mine Disaster

A second criminal probe has been opened in relation to a November 25 explosion in a coal mine in Russia’s Kemerovo Oblast that has left 52 people dead and around 30 missing.

Prosecutors on November 26 opened a probe into possible “negligence” at the mine, noting that a November 24 inspection of the Listvyazhnaya mine had found no safety issues. The new probe could target inspectors of the state Rostekhnadzor monitoring agency. Prosecutors said two inspectors allegedly filed reports of inspections that were never actually carried out.

During an inspection of the mine in April 2020, the Russian state agency Rostekhnadzor reported 139 violations at the mine, and more than 20 managers and employees of the company were penalized.

On the day of the blast, a criminal probe into possible “safety violations having fatal consequences” was opened, and the mining company’s director and deputy director and the immediate supervisor of the mine were detained.

The 52 dead include 46 miners and six rescuers. Some 15 rescuers have been hospitalized and were being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, Russian state media reported. The RIA Novosti state news agency reported on November 26 that there were two separate explosions at the mine, the first killing the miners and a later blast killing the rescuers.

The head of the Kemerovo Oblast settlement of Prokopyevska, Vyacheslav Starchenko, was dismissed on November 26 for organizing a party in honor of his own appointment the previous day at a time when the entire Siberian region was officially in mourning. Regional Governor Sergei Tsivilev announced the dismissal, saying that those who attended the gathering “apparently have no heart.”

Kemerovo Oblast has declared a period of mourning from November 26 to November 28.

With reporting by RIA Novosti