ESTONIA WAS SUNK
New Book Says Russians Sank Baltic Ferry to Prevent Technology from Reaching West
Was the Baltic ferry Estonia, which was carrying 1,000 passengers, sunk be cause it carried top-secret Soviet space technology bound for the Pentagon? A new book by an experienced German investigator points to that conclusion.
Exclusive to American Free Press
By Christopher Bollyn
BERLIN—A recently published book points to covert U.S.-Russian joint ventures in transferring Soviet space technology to the West as being behind the sinking of the Estonia, the passenger ferry that went down while crossing the Baltic Sea to Stockholm on Sept. 28, 1994.
The book, Die Estonia, by Jutta Rabe, contains the first comprehensive reconstruction of the disaster bringing together eyewitness testimony, video evidence and official documents.
Rabe, a German TV-journalist, has been investigating the Estonia catastrophe since the day of the sinking when she flew to Finland to interview survivors.
The evidence Rabe presents suggests that on its final crossing, Estonia, a well-known joint venture operating between Sweden and Estonia, carried extremely sensitive cargo quite unlike the usual contraband of illicit drugs and smuggled humans. Deep in the ship’s hold, loaded on trucks headed for the West, was the fruit of decades of Soviet scientific research and development in space technology.
Although Rabe does not speculate about what was being transported, she points to a list of items found in a New York Times article by William J. Broad from Nov. 4, 1991.
Broad described the technology Pentagon officials were interested in buying from the Soviet space program. Russell Seitz from the Olin Center for Strategic Studies at Harvard University called it “the yard sale at the end of history.”
An incident in early 1991 revealed how much the U.S. military establishment coveted certain items of the Soviet space program. When a model of the Topaz 2 reactor, a Soviet nuclear-powered satellite, was displayed at a Washington symposium, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) stopped it from being returned, saying that would constitute “the illegal export of nuclear technology from the United States.”
It took Richard Verga, from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) program at the Pentagon, the State Department and the Commerce Department to persuade the NRC to let the exhibit go home.
International Scientific Products, Inc., (ISP) a San Jose, Calif.-based group, announced plans to buy one of the Soviet reactors to help the U.S. develop a similar system. At the time, ISP was engaged in a joint-venture with Russian company International Energy Technologies (INERTEK), based at the Kurchatov Research Center in Moscow. The now defunct ISP reportedly worked with SDIO.
The Pentagon had announced its intention in 1991 to spend $12 million to buy an advanced Soviet nuclear reactor for generating power in space. Leonard Caveny, deputy director of innovative science and technology at the SDIO, traveled to the Soviet space labs near Moscow, where a team of experts tested a tiny space engine that uses magnetic fields instead of fuel to move a spacecraft.
This amazing device, necessary for space-based anti-missile programs such as “Brilliant Pebbles,” fit in the palm of a hand and was available for less than $1 million.
“It’s very moderately priced,” Caveny told a reporter before his visit to Russia. Verga said the price included all associated flight hardware.
“This kind of engine has been kicking around on pa per in this country for 30 years, but never in space,” Verga said. “The Soviets are actually flying these things.”
The Soviets had plutonium-238 and heat-resistant alloys completely unknown in the West, including one made of palladium and osmium able to withstand temperatures to 3,600 degrees Celsius.
The Air Force was reportedly interested in the RD-170, reportedly the best liquid-fuel rocket engine in the world.
“The shopping spree, begun by the military” soon attracted a number of federal agencies who visited the Soviet Union in the early ’90s “to evaluate a host of high technologies,” Broad wrote.
There was, however, considerable resistance to this “shopping spree” by U.S. space technology companies who strongly opposed being undersold at the Soviet “yard sale,” according to NASA Administrator Admiral Richard Truly.
There were also different opinions at different levels of management: “It’s schizophrenic,” one industry expert said. “Middle management will talk to the Soviets, who get all excited. But when it goes to the next step, upper management is not interested, leaving the Soviets up in the air. That’s also the problem on the Soviet side. Middle management tries to cut a deal.”
Rabe says “middle-management” used joint ventures like ISP to transfer technology and names the players.
In 1993, a U.S. Army colonel named Aleksander Einseln, who worked at NATO headquarters in Brussels, left his home near San Jose to take over the command of the former Soviet military forces in his native Estonia, which became independent in 1991.
Einseln continued to report to NATO command from his position in the former Soviet republic until early 1995.
While Einseln probably knew about the technology shipment on Estonia and apparently provided troops to escort it to the harbor, Rabe told AFP she does not think he was the author of the ill-fated transfer operation.
A high-ranking military attaché from the German Bundesmarine told Rabe that when he visited Einseln in his office in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, for a meeting on the day of the disaster, he asked about the sinking.
“That was an attack against us,” said. Einseln.
Einseln, however, later denied being in Tallinn on Sept. 28 and told reporters, including German Spiegel TV, that he had been in the United States that day.
Hours after, the Estonian chief of Estline, the company that operated Estonia, said the ferry had been attacked.
Estline’s chief, Johannes Johanson, said, “Estonia was sunk by assault.”
Rabe explains how divers hired by the Swedish government spent hours breaking into cabins frantically searching for a black attaché case carried by a Russian space technology dealer, Aleksandr Voronin.
Voronin owned a company in Tallinn called “Kosmos Association” while his brother, Valeri, had a similar company in Moscow that traded weapons and space technology.
The official divers worked for Rockwater, a subsidiary of Brown & Root Energy Services (BRES), and had signed lifetime contracts obliging them to remain silent about what they did on the wreck resting 250 feet below the surface.
BRES is a subsidiary of Halliburton, formerly directed by Vice President Dick Cheney since 1995.
Rabe told AFP that Rockwater was not the low bidder but received the job by Johan Franson, head of the Swedish Maritime Administration.
Secrecy, Rabe says, was of paramount importance.
According to Rabe, video footage from the official dive, done during the first four days of December 1994, shows how divers frantically searched the cabins breaking the locks to find a black leather case.
Putin Stops The Transfers
Finally, the case was found in Cabin No. 6130, a cabin usually used by one of the ferry’s missing captains, Avo Piht. The diver read from the case: “It says Aleksandr Voronin. Does that ring any bells up there?”
Rabe points to a group of Russian nationalists from the Soviet intelligence agencies as being the culprits behind the actual sinking of Estonia. According to Rabe’s sources, the so-called Felix Group included Vladimir Putin and Ivan Ivanov, respectively the current president and foreign minister of Russia, who were strongly opposed to the wholesale looting of the Soviet arsenal.
The window of easy access to Soviet military secrets slammed shut in July 1998 when Putin was appointed director of Russia’s Federal Security Service. The Voronin company was liquidated and the American firms that dealt with them went out of business.
According to Rabe, the sinking of Estonia is summed up in one of the book’s concluding sentences: “It was the perfect coup, which could have only been carried out by secret services or groups which include former members of the secret services as members, like the networks of terrorists, regardless of their origin or motivation.”
<a href="http://www.elaestonia.org/eng/index.php">Estonia Litigation Association</a>
Three things are sacred to me: first Truth, and then, in its tracks, primordial prayer; Then virtue–nobility of soul which, in God walks on the path of beauty. Frithjof Schuon