More charges to be brought against state officials over Bulgaria shipwreck

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, August 11 (Itar-Tass) —— More charges may be brought within a month against government officials over the Bulgaria ship wreck, Tatarstan republic transport prosecutor Ruslan Tsechoyev said at a news conference here on Thursday.

Relevant materials have been already submitted to the Volga region administration of the Russian Investigations Committee, Tsechoyev said but refused to furnish further comment. “The investigation goes on, charges will be brought against more people,” he only said.

According to Volga federal district transport prosecutor Sergei Belov, the Bulgaria shipwreck, which claimed 122 human lives, has revealed drawback in the federal laws regulating the activity of ship owners and operators, as well as of regulating authorities. More efficient mechanisms are needed to ensure adequate relations between shipowners, regulating authorities, and law enforcers.

“Now we are elaborating information exchange mechanisms between these subjects of law, and are checking ships to ensure their safety and compliance with navigation rules,” Belov said.

He called to improve relevant law and to eliminate “narrow places” that might be used by mala fide owners. Thus, in his words, the system of licensing passenger river navigation is to be replaced by a system of activity insurance.

“To obtain a license a ship owner or a leaseholder only needs to pay 2,600 roubles in state duties. The system of activity insurance, even with a minimal fee of about ten million roubles, will make it possible to screen mala fide players off the river passenger services market,” he noted.

So far, the Volga federal district transport prosecutor’ s office only can conduct inspections and checks of passenger riverboats. As of now, a total of 318 such ships seating more than 50 have been checked. Technical faults have been found in 48 of them and these boats have been banned from further operation.

The Bulgaria pleasure boat, which was on a Bolgary-Kazan river voyage, sank in a storm in the Kuibyshevskoye dam lake, three kilometers away from the shore, on July 10. The ship built in Czechoslovakia in 1955 tilted to the right and sank within minutes. According to the latest information, there were 201 people aboard, some of them unregistered. Seventy-nine were rescued. The officially confirmed death toll is 122 people – 28 children, 72 women and 22 men.

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