March 13, 2018 is the 57th anniversary of the man-made disaster that occurred in Kyiv, when a powerful mudflow from Babyn Yar through the breached dam flooded the residential area – Kurenivka and led to numerous victims. This event went down in history as the Kurenivka tragedy and unofficial statistics indicates more than 1,500 fatalities.

On the fact of the incident, a criminal case was opened, which was considered by the Judicial Board of criminal cases of Kyiv Regional Court. The perpetrators were responsible for the abuse of power and official positions, which led to serious consequences.

The case materials were classified as “Top secret” until March 2008. Now in the museum of KFI there is an original of one of the conducted forensic examinations on the fact of the catastrophe.

Photographic examination of June 12, 1962 carried out on the research negatives with pictures of the place of Kurenivka tragedy, which were transferred to foreign citizens by an unknown person.

In the Decree of the Committee for State Security under the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR was said the following to Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise under the leadership of the well-known forensic scientist V.K. Lysychenko:

“We are sending two widescreen photographic films with snapshots of the consequences of the catastrophe in the region of Bayn Yar and Kurenivka, which were made by an unknown person in March-April 1961.”

Mykola M. Ziuskin, the Head of the Section (later the Department) of the forensic photo, was entrusted to conduct the examination.

The following questions were brought to the expert’s decision:

  • Type and brand of the camera;
  • Characteristics of the camera and its specific features, possible defects;
  • Focal length of the camera;
  • Qualification of the photographer and conditions in which the shooting was conducted;
  • Whether both films were shot by one camera.

The results of the research proved that the shooting was really carried out using a single camera. While examining the images, the forensic expert noticed a defect in the personnel frame, but noted that this did not significantly affect the overall quality of the photographs. “All the pictures were taken with more or less correct exposure, which indicates the ability of the photographer to use the device. On some pictures the device was set to crooked, but on the basis of these data it is difficult to judge the qualifications of the photographer, because such defects in pictures could have been caused by accidental reasons”, it was noted in the examination’s conclusion.

For reference: Mykola Ziuskin, the expert who conducted the research, is a famous criminalist and photo chemist, PhD in Engineering Science and PhD in Law. All his work is connected with Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise. He worked first as a technician, then as a research assistant, and from 1934 he became the Section Head (later the Department) of forensic photography.

He is the author of numerous works in the field of scientific and forensic photography, forensic ballistics and trasology, examination of documents: “ A new method of identifying firearms” (1947), “Photometric method in trasology” (1949), “On some methods of handling a photographic image” (1952) , “The method of copying in the study of strokes on documents” (1960), “Electrolytic method for processing photographic layers” (1961), “Photographic and physical methods of investigating material evidence” (1962), etc.