MOSCOW — Col. Gen. Vladimir Shutov, deputy head of the army's central headquarters, and four other top Soviet generals died in the crash of a military helicopter Monday, the army newspaper Red Star reported today.
The helicopter's two-man crew also was killed, according to the newspaper, which made the death announcement through obituaries and a message of condolences from the armed forces.
There were no details on where or how the crash occurred. It was known that the aircraft involved was a helicopter only because the pilots were identified as a helicopter crew.
A Western diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he had information about the incident that "ruled out Afghanistan," where the Soviet military has been fighting Afghan guerrillas for nearly eight years.
The diplomatic source said he had received recent information indicating that the crash could have occurred in the southern region or in Eastern Europe. Asked how he knew that Afghanistan was not involved, the source, who has access to various Western intelligence reports, said: "I can't tell you that."
The dead included: Shutov, 63, who had held his present position since 1975; Lt. Gen. Yuri Ryabinin, 53, described only as the holder of a "responsible post" in the general headquarters; Lt. Gen. Kirill Trofimov, 66, deputy head of communications for the armed forces; Maj. Gen. Vladimir Bardashevsky, 49, also described as the holder of a "responsible post" at headquarters, and Maj. Gen. Yerlen Porfiryev, 51, in charge of the headquarters for the southern military region.
The announcement reflected the new openness under Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Military deaths in the past were usually discovered only indirectly through the printing of obituaries that did not state the cause of death.