Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting on disaster relief measures following wildfires in several regions around Russia. The heads of the Amur Region, Trans-Baikal Territory and Buryatia took part in the meeting.
Several dozen forest fires have broken out in different parts of Russia and the situation is particularly serious in the Amur Region, Trans-Baikal Territory and Buryatia.
Head of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s National Crisis Management Centre Viktor Yatsutsenko, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Amur Region government Marina Dedyushko, Acting Governor of Trans-Baikal Territory Natalya Zhdanova, Head of the Republic of Buryatia Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Director of the Federal Forestry Agency Ivan Valentik all made reports at the meeting. Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov and Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Yegor Borisov also spoke at the meeting.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
I wanted to meet with you today to discuss natural disaster relief efforts, in this case, fighting wildfires.
When I visited Vostochny Space Launch Centre I could see from the helicopter that smoke was rising in some places. Nature is putting us to the test here, of course. The winds are high and the temperatures are high too.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, these kinds of events are linked to human activity and are started by humans. In this case, grass-clearing was to blame. We talk about this issue every year, but we still do not manage to prevent the kind of negative turn of events that we see today.
The Amur Region, Buryatia, and Trans-Baikal Territory have been hit particularly hard. Thousands of hectares of forests are burning there. Let’s discuss what steps have been taken to deal with this situation. I know that an interdepartmental working group has been established and satellite monitoring of the situation is underway.
I want to hear from you what concrete measures are being taken and what plans have you made for the coming period, the summer holiday season. In this context, we must put particular emphasis on preventing fires and other negative impacts on nature and ensure normal conditions at the various holiday destination sites.
Let’s start work.
Vladimir Putin: Let me make one point, following on why I called this meeting today. I see the work underway and see that you are taking the measures needed to put out the fires and prevent them from spreading further. But there is one point I want to make, based on all we have just heard.
Plans have been settled, work is underway, and you have enough people at your disposal. But the fires continue to spread. Clearly, the measures taken so far are insufficient for effective work. Mr Borisov spoke just now about last year’s experience, when a dangerous situation was brought under control in just the first two-three days. I cannot but take the view that if this experience produced good results, it should serve as a model for other regions too, taking into account each region’s own specific conditions and particularities, of course.
I ask the Emergency Situations Minister to keep me updated on what is being done and on the plans for the upcoming period, given that the forest fire high-risk season has not yet even begun in Russia overall. Of course, as on previous such occasions, our first priority must be to help those who have been left homeless and are living in temporary shelters. We must also check once again places that see large numbers of people come together during the summer holiday season.
I wish you good luck and all the very best. I ask you to work hard to prevent any worsening of the situation that we see in Siberia and the Far East at the moment.
All the best. Thank you.
May 11, 2016, Sochi