Mansi legends tell of nine hunters that found their death on the Mount Kholat-Syakhyl at the time of the Flood: “died of hunger”, “cooked to death in boiling water”, “perished in some sinister flare”. Hence its name, translated as the Mountain of the Dead. The Mansi did not regard either Kholat-Syakhyl or the neighbouring Mount Otorten as sacred, i.e. the mountains had never been used for sacrifices. In fact, the locals rather tried not to frequent these heights.
Nonetheless, these forest dwellers became the first suspects. In early March, several Mansi were taken to a detention cell in Ivdel for questioning. It was believed that they cut open the tent from the outside. The tortures ensued: the Mansi were stripped naked and exposed to the frost. However, it did not take long for investigator Vladimir Korotayev to find out that the tent had been ripped open from the inside, thus stopping the brutal interrogation.