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Russian official wants probe into U.S. moon landings

The increasingly tense relationship between the United States and Russia might be about to face a new challenge: a Russian investigation into American Moon landings.

In an op-ed published by Russian newspaper Izvestia on Tuesday (local time), Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the government’s official Investigative Committee, argued that such an investigation could reveal new insights into the historical space journeys.

According to a translation by the Moscow Times, Markin would support an inquiry into the disappearance of original footage from the first moon landing in 1969 and the whereabouts of lunar rock, which was brought back to Earth during several missions.

“We are not contending that they did not fly [to the Moon], and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific – or perhaps cultural – artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will reveal what happened,” Markin wrote, according to the Moscow Times translation.

The op-ed is unlikely to raise worries among NASA officials. In 2009, NASA itself admitted that it had erased the original video recordings of the first Moon landing among 200,000 other tapes in order to save money, according to Reuters. However, NASA has since restored copies of the landing, using recordings from other sources such as CBS News. The organisation says that due to restoration efforts, the recordings’ quality is superior to the original one that has gone missing.

NASA did also emphasise the uniqueness of lunar soil and rock in the past. “They differ from Earth rocks in many respects,” David McKay, chief scientist for planetary science and exploration at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where most of the material is stored, said in 2001.

So, why is Investigative Committee member Markin speculating about conspiracy theories surrounding US moon landings that happened decades ago? In his op-ed, the Russian official also emphasised that “US authorities had crossed a line by launching a large-scale corruption probe targeting nine Fifa officials,” according to the Moscow Times.

On June 2, Fifa President Sepp Blatter announced that he would eventually step down amid an ongoing investigation into widespread corruption at the organisation. “US prosecutors have declared themselves the supreme arbiters of international football affairs,” Markin complained in his op-ed. The official went on to argue that US investigators had confused political bargaining with corruption. He specifically referred to media speculation that former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder authorised military arms shipments to Saudi Arabia to help Germany win the 2006 World Cup bid.

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