But the memo never got to Brezhnev. Nobody wanted to be the messenger of bad news, you see. As Krulwich notes, "Everyone who saw that memo... was demoted, fired, or sent to diplomatic Siberia." That included the KGB agent (Russayev) who tried to forward Yuri's memo.
According to Russayev, he asked Vladimir why he simply didn't refuse to fly the mission, and Vladimir answered truthfully: because if he backed out, his alternate would be the one to launch into near-certain death, and that alternate was his good friend Yuri. "He'll die instead of me," he said. "We've got to take care of him." And knowing he was sealing his own fate, Vladimir burst into tears.
Pause a moment and ask yourself: what would you have done? Would you save your own skin and back out of the mission, even though it meant your good friend would likely die in your stead? Could you live with the guilt if you did so? Or would you do what Vladimir did, and sacrifice yourself for your friend?
"Crying With Rage"
Apparently Yuri showed up on that fateful day, April 23, 1967, and demanded to be suited up for the flight instead of his friend, but he was refused. The launch proceeded as planned, with Vladimir on board. And the multiple malfunctions, indeed, proved fatal. As Krulwich writes: