The Russian party to the Kursk submarine raising operation has not confirmed reports saying the raising team has accomplished a test lifting of the Kursk submarine off the sea bottom, head of the Northern Fleet press service Vladimir Navrotsky told RIA Novosti Sunday. On his part, official spokesman for Smit International Lars Walder said the test lifting of the Kursk's forebody took place at 1:00 p.m., Moscow time. Earlier, Russia's state-owned RTR TV channel cited a source in Smit International as saying a test lifting of the vessel's forebody off the bottom of the Barents Sea was accomplished around 1:00 p.m., Moscow time. By Sunday morning, according to Smit International, lifting devices were attached to the last of the 26 holes cut in the submarine's hull. After that, the raising crew tested the entire set of 26 lifting devices by burdening each cable with 150 tons. Having analysed test results, specialists decided to launch a test lift of the forebody off the bottom. Smit International asserts that the test went smoothly and the submarine was "moving," i.e. it is not fastened to the sea bottom as many have feared. By 6:00 p.m. Sunday, the vessel will be fully prepared for the raising operation, said the source. According to Navrotsky, the situation will be cleared up at 5:00 p.m., Moscow time during a live video hookup featuring Special Task Expedition Commander Vice-Admiral Mikhail Motsak.
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign