popular theory lays the blame for the death on western spies and
intelligence agencies. Now it might seem like implausible and outright
explanation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, but it has right to be told anyway.
This theory is based on the fact that American and Western spies had hard time working in Soviet Union in the 50's.
First of all most of foreign tourists from the capitalist countries
were allowed to visit only
Petersburg and Moscow along
with its surrounding cities. The rest of the Soviet Union was off
limits. It is partially responsible for the widely believed
stereotype that Russia is cold. Warm and even hot regions of the
country were simply off limits to Western citizens and spies alike.
Furthermore Stalin's secret police followed every foreigner that set foot in Russia. So the only way to deliver any information that was crucial was through illegal spy system. This ring of Soviet nationals willing to work for capitalists was especially essential in remote regions of the Soviet Union where nuclear industry was being expanded and developed. Obviously the foreigners were not allowed even close to these sites. So Western intelligence agencies attempted to get Soviet citizens to do all the work for them. There they would pick up needed information that they would deliver back by all means possible.
The race for nuclear weapons put greater pressure on the CIA since there was no quick way to proof or disprove that certain site was working for nuclear enrichment. The only way to verify possible site was by delivering any object that contained radioactive material. For example Tomsk- 7 was correctly identified as a site of Soviet nuclear enrichment program by a single ski hat in 1955. It sound absurd now, but in a state of fear and paranoia this was the only way to spy on Soviet Union. Russians were not stupid either. They repeatedly fooled Western by delivering radioactive- tainted material from places that had nothing to do with it. This brings us to so called theory of Western intelligence involvement. According to this theory two or more members of the Dyatlov group were hired by the KGB to deliver fake proof of radioactive tainted clothes. The rest of the group was probably unaware of the real purpose of their journey.
Zolotarev and Krivonischenko might have been the best candidates for this delivery. Krivonischenko worked for a closed facility that was involved in the development of the Soviet nuclear capability. It would be logical to assume that a young and promising student was approached at some point by agents of the Western intelligence agency. If he was "touched" by the spies he might have reported this to an "osobist", a KGB agent working on the site. This would make Krivonischenko a pawn in a false delivery of radioactive material. But he needed a man who could spot him in a difficult situation.
Many supporters of this theory point to Zolotarev as a possible second agent. He had an experience in a war. He presented himself under a different name to a group. Even today many sites devoted to the Dyatlov Pass Incident call him "Alexander" rather than his real name of "Semen". If we look at his official biography it becomes even stranger. He mentions serving in the military engineer unit. They usually were first to clear enemy defenses and fell an easy prey to hostile fire. Their losses were simply horrific. Some units lost up to 80% of the their soldiers in just few days of battle for Konigsberg and Berlin. They were offered metal breast plates to reduce casualty rate, but it had little effect in an overall picture. These were basically suicidal units. And Zolotarev managed to serve in one. But here is where normalcy of his resume ends. We start to get peculiarities and questions about his previous life.
Soviet military engineers in action
He joined the army in October of 1941, but reached the frontlines on May 10th of 1942. In the time then officers were trained for only 3 months and solders got only few days (if they got lucky) of basic training, Zolotarev get full 6 months. He should have been rushed to the front and killed like 97% of all men born with him in the same year. But this does not happen. Furthermore we know that he received 4 medals. This is a lot for a Soviet soldier. Most did not live that long or did not fit the qualifications to receive one. Additionally there were a lot of reasons in Soviet Union not to get a medal. This included nationality for example. Beginning from 1944 Chechens were not granted any signs of distinction. Chechen families were deported to Kazakhstan beginning on February 23rd, 1944. Giving medals to their sons, brothers and fathers would raise too many question on a legitimacy of such harsh treatment.
Another reasons why you couldn't get distinguished by the government was your social background and the region of the country. Zolotarev was a Cossack (a Russian subculture of professional soldiers/ peasants from the Southern Russia) and he was son of a doctor. Cossacks were too religious and too independent and automatically raised eyebrows in Kremlin. This automatically reduced his chanced to receive any medals. And yet he managed to pull through. He mentions four signs of distinction in his official biography- resume, but he doesn't describe the circumstances or even location of military actions which yearned him these distinctions. The official biography had its guidelines and were very important before someone would get hired on a job. You had to write down the exact number of the medal in an official document. If you didn't, the paper would be returned to you with subsequent inquiry with the army. You didn't want to lie about receiving military distinction without actually earning them. This could result in very serious consequences for Semen "Alexander" Zolotarev. And what do we see? Serial numbers are not mentioned, units are not mentioned, location is not mentioned and yet the paper is accepted and filed despite numerous omissions on behalf of Semen Zolotarev. It would be logical to assume that inquiry that was started might have been cancelled due to KGB involvement.
Victory Parade of 1945. Notice the number of medals on these soldiers. One- two at the most.
This brings us to the trip itself. Let's assume that Krivonischenko met with the Western agents who convinced him to transfer clothing tainted by radiation. Western intelligence officers would be dropped somewhere in Siberia and rendezvous with a group of Krivonischenko and his friends. The clothes would be given by an KGB agent before the group would set on the skiing trip. As you might remember Krivonischenko gets arrested for singing and pretending to beg for money. He gets arrested, but than immediately let go. Some might see a normal person who didn't want to cancel the trip for a minor transgression. Or it might have been a planned excuse to leave the group and accept radioactively stained clothes. As I mentioned before Krivonischenko was present at Kushtumkoy Accident two years earlier then radioactivity leaked. However being a young professional he certainly would not keep any of the old clothes. Even helicopter pilots refused to fly bodies when they heard that radioactivity was present. So it would be illogical to suggest that Krivonischenko could keep his clothes all that time.
The rest of the trip was planned out. Somewhere along the way they were supposed to met "lost tourists" and share clothes as a token of good will. Then they would depart. Something went terribly wrong and these "tourists" simply killed the whole group. They forced young tourists from their tents, made them take their shoes off. Rustem probably tried to defend his group and got in fight with the agents. This explains the damages he
received in the area of the skull. This would also explain why someone cut the tent from the inside. The recipients of dangerous cargo needed a simple view of the mountain slope while they were searching for any evidence of their presence. As you remember Kolevatov diary and a third camera went missing and there is still no answer of its whereabouts. That would also explain the deaths of first five members. Special forces simply left them to die in the cold to hide their presence. As it was mentioned earlier tourists had at least two pairs of footwear. One was used for a trail and another was used during cold nights. Most of the members had nothing on their feet except for socks. Minor injuries could be overlooked and deaths could easily be ignored. However something went wrong and instead of freezing to death the remaining tourists showed stamina and a will to live. Thus the special forces unit descended down the mountain and killed the remaining group in a state of panic and furious anger.
First victims were Doroshenko and Krivonischenko who were left by the cedar to keep the fire going. Doroshenko as you remember had strange grayish foam around his mouth. A pulmonary edema is common in drug addicts, but since none of the members of the group had any drugs or alcohol we can make another suggestion. He was actually tortured. And this involved putting weight on a man's chest thus increasing hydrostatic pressure of blood in his capillaries. This would produce exudate that filled the lungs and appear as a foam around his lips. Krivonishenko has several injuries that are also very interesting. It seems that he bit palms of his hands for some reason. We can assume that he tried to escape his enemies by climbing a tree. His frozen hands were too weak to hold his body so he tried to bite them, leaving marks on the hands and epidermis (skin) behind his teeth. Eventually he fell down, judging by the bruises on the lower extremities, was beaten (injuries in the head area) and left to die. Having experienced a severe shock it wouldn't take long. They might have looked for the Dyatlov Group in the forest, so they missed the return of the tourists to the cedar, but once they heard voices they probably came back and finished off the remaining students and young professionals. They retreated a missing camera, Kolevatov's diary and left clothes since it became evident it was a set up. Although seemingly as improbable at first, a course of history of KGB- CIA relations knows of such "deliveries" made by KGB to fool their American and British partners. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they were revealed as falsifications by the Soviet side.
However even this theory also has its weaknesses. For example a number of extra eye witnesses that accompanied the two alleged KGB agents (Krivonischenko and Zolotarev) raises questions. Why would they take civilians to a dangerous rendezvous with the foreign agents? Although it is known that many Western intelligence officers were of ethnicities that came from Russia (Russians, Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians and many others), it is highly unlikely that they could have hidden their foreign accents or lack of knowledge about simple facts of Soviet life. This could have easily slipped in a conversation and become evident. Once the agents were revealed they would almost certainly try to get rid of unnecessary witnesses. Taking extra people with you meant increasing risk of failure to the whole operation. Secondly the last four tourists were killed in a state of panic and obvious loss of the situation. Their initial plan to let everyone freeze didn't work as agents expected to. Members of the Dyatlov Group were beaten and killed and yet even this gruesome procedure would require time and energy that is necessary to survive in the harsh climate. It would have been easier to shoot unwanted witnesses rather than waste time on them. It seems that people responsible for the murders forgot to take any weapons with them. Even hunting rifles that are legal in this region of Russia were ignored. Could it be that a different group of people might have committed as an act under similar scenario?