'And I very much hope that the law in Russian is not an empty vessel, and the people in our country are prohibited from eating one another'.
Widow Olga Kurochkina, 38, said in her letter to President Putin 'I will not describe in what kind of hell our family has been living all the time from the start of the search to today. I hope for your involvement and assistance'. Picture: The Siberian Times
Two 'cannibal' fishermen carried their dead friend for two weeks, eating his flesh until only his skull was left. This macabre account has emerged as the victim's 38 year old widow has written to President Vladimir Putin pleading for help, alleging a cover-up over an investigation.
Two friends survived in harsh winter temperatures by carrying and eating 44 year old Andrei Kurochkin's corpse for a fortnight after they became 'lost' in the remote taiga. One of them was Alexander Abdullaev, 37, who admitted eating his fellow fisherman to police - but denied murdering him.
'I did it but not because I was hungry. I had another reason', Abdullayev added, declining to explain what it was.
Another friend, Alexei Gorulenko, 35, who knew the cannibalised man since childhood, has exercised his right to stay silent and has not spoken to investigators. Nor has he revealed to the victim's wife the sinister sequence of events on this trip.
The group of four became lost on a fishing trip in a remote area of the Sakha Republic or Yakutia - when their vehicle was swept away in a flood, according to the accounts that have emerged. In a significant new development, the widow has now strongly criticised investigators in a letter sent to President Putin.
Andrei and Olga Kurochkina on their wedding day. Picture: The Siberian Times
'In the forest, according to Abdullaev's testimony, the group had some difficulties and they had to go to the nearest town on foot,' said Olga Kurochkina, Andrei's wife. 'During the time it took to get to the nearest town, my husband was killed and eaten by Abdullaev and Gorulenko', she alleged.
'Based on their testimony a criminal case was opened by the Negyungri Investigative Committee under part 1 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder).
'I am very dissatisfied with the investigation of the law enforcement agencies for the following reasons:
- A criminal case has been investigated for five months, but in fact nothing is being done.
- Until now, neither Abdullaev, nor Gorulenko were charged with anything (they are witnesses in the case)
- No one is even looking for Vladimir Komarov, who according to Abdullaev (is the fourth man who) went into the forest
- The case is one-sided, since all polygraph examination was made only with Abdullaev but Gorulenko for some reason is out of the view of the investigation'.
He, though, says the grieving widow, 'was the initiator and organiser of the trip and also he is a master of the sport - in fighting'.
The lack of arrests 'makes one think that Russian legislation does not punish acts of cannibalism, although in our country, they are exceptional', Olga said.
'The last recorded acts of forced cannibalism were in besieged Leningrad (during World War Two); modern Russia cannot tell these people to 'enjoy their meal'.
She told President Putin: 'I certainly do not hope that my message will get to you personally, but I hope for the help of your staff. My family lives far from the capital, but we are also citizens of this country. And I very much hope that the law in our country is not an empty vessel, and the people in our country are prohibited from eating one another'.
'I will not describe in what kind of hell our family has been living all the time from the start of the search to today. I hope for your involvement and assistance'.
It is understood since writing to the Kremlin, her complaint has been passed on to the Investigative Committee.
Andrei and Olga Kurochkin on their daughter Alyona's school graduation day. Picture: The Siberian Times
Olga is stung that family friend Gorulenko has not even talked to her.
'Gorulenko came back to our hometown of Volsk and lives there like nothing has happened. For five months he hasn't spoken to me once. He didn't call, he didn't explain what happened in the taiga. He didn't even say sorry... you know like people do.
'And he was Andrei's childhood friend. He has now gone back to fishing, and this summer he will return to the taiga. Yet he refused to give the testimony on cannibalism and quotes the constitution which allows you not to give testimony against yourself.'
Earlier Olga said: 'Can you imagine what I have left? One foot with toes, one finger, and the back of his skull with some hair. This is it. This is all I have left from the man I loved. Having just these remains, how can I say goodbye to him?
'I have got almost nothing to cry over. Sorry, I can't think about it, I am losing my mind with this. Now I am sure they have eaten him. Now we know that Andrei died somewhere else and they dragged the body all the way through the snow, eating it step by step.
'But together with the remains of my husband there were also found the bones of animals. It means only one thing - they kept hunting somehow and if so, probably they were not that desperate.
'I know the word 'extreme' may mean different things to different people but honestly, if they could kill animals, why would they need to try eating a human body? And why - for God's sake - did they carry his head with them?'
Andrei Kurochkin childhood friend Alexei Gorulenko with his wife Irina. Picture: The Siberian Times
Olga must wait for the results of the investigation, now apparently extended, but recently there have been no comments from investigators.
'I can only hope it was not them who killed Andrei. I know that Abdullaev agreed to be checked on a lie detector and this was done. The experts say he did not kill Andrei but he did eat him because he was in despair and suffered terribly from hunger.
'I don't want to suspect them of murder. This would be just too much. But I do want them to be punished somehow for what they did, because it is just outrageous to leave it like this'.
Olga lives in Saratov region from where her her husband and Gorulenko set out last year on an epic fishing-trip-of-a-lifetime to eastern Siberia. The couple have a daughter Alyona, 21.
'I never expected such horror could come into my life,' she said. 'It has ruined not just my life, but also the lives of all our relatives, and we are a big family.
'I want these cannibals to be punished. I fear our police is not keen to investigate this case properly. Our law does not say a word about cannibalism, it is not a crime, so our two survivors can be punished only for defiling a body and perhaps leaving a human being in danger.'
While she cannot face the thought that the other fishermen killed her husband, police are probing this in an investigation which has been extended until June.
'I have posted my written statement and petition to the Prosecutor's office of Neryungri town where the investigation is going on. I demanded they take action and make Gorulenko and Abdullaev responsible for what they did. If this does not work I am ready to apply to the General Prosecutor's office in Moscow. I do not want this story to be forgotten by the police and media'.
Alexander Abdullaev and Alexei Gorulenko on board of rescuers helicopter. Picture: The Siberian Times
Both survivors are now free, Olga said, and are categorised by the police as witnesses.
'Abdullaev is cooperating with the investigators, Gorulenko preferred to rely on Article 51 of the Russian constitution that allows him to keep silence. He did not agree to be checked by a lie detector and it can be done only voluntarily.'
Former family friend Gorulenko is also refusing to talk to her.
'I have not spoken to him since this happened,' she said. 'He is avoiding contact with people now. I got to know recently that he is a convinced atheist. Maybe it helped him there in the taiga - but surely it did not help my husband to survive.
'I am still learning to live without Andrey. I never thought such a thing could happen. I was completely lost soon afterwards but now I am ready to make sure they won't give up on this investigation.'
Investigator Dmitry Murashko declined to go into details on the disturbing case.
'I can confirm that some of the test results have arrived,' he said in his most recent comment on the case. 'However, there is more to be done. 'Until everything is ready and in place, I can't really comment. The murder inquest is extended until June this year - so far this is all I can say'.
Earlier Abdullaev said that Olga's husband 'died from the cold after getting a leg injury. He was frostbitten and froze to death. Only after that did we start eating him, to survive. We needed protein. We cut his flesh from the bones and ate it and it helped us to survive for ten days.'
Though police refuse to comment, his lie detector test apparently bears out his claim.
Andrei Kurochkin's daughter Alyona. Picture: The Siberian Times
The fishermen became lost after their UAZ vehicle was swept into a river during a flood.
Soon after being rescued, Gorulenko was asked if he had eaten his friend. He replied: 'How can you say such a thing?'
Gorulenko's mother Tamara Frolova said: 'Alexei did not tell anyone about what happened in the forest. He is silent most of the time and sighs all the time.'
She added: 'He is still very weak, he needs to restore health, both physical and emotional.'
Olga revealed earlier that 'Andrei and Alexei were close friends for almost 20 years. They were passionate fishermen and often went away together.
'This time they were with two others who I didn't know and this worried me. But I knew Andrei was with his best friend so I thought everything would be all right, that they would look after each other.
'We could never imagine it would end like this'.
After more than a month away from his mountain cave, 100-year-old lama will soon be taken on journey back to cave from where he was stolen.
The 19th century vessel - formerly the Royal Navy's HMS Pandora - sank as Americans raced to be first to North Pole.
Charting wonderful friendships and shedding light on a region little known and understood by the West, James dreams of a best-seller with his travel memoirs.
Radiation expert says radon gas is not to blame, as anxious residents open their hearts about the difficult decision to leave the place they call home.
From frost-resistant woolly pigs to sheep that look like goats and horses that love playing the snow, there are lots of surprises across the taiga.
Growing number of brave Siberians strip off for the winter, with debate raging about the benefits of taking to the snow and ice naked.