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Meeting on wildfire relief measures in Siberia

May 2, 2017, Sochi

Vladimir Putin held a meeting on wildfire relief measures in the Siberian Federal District.

The meeting took place via teleconference. Specifically, the President gave instructions to heads of regions to tighten control over the fire hazard during the summer.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

We all know that the Siberian Federal District has had the misfortune of facing massive wildfires, which damaged social facilities and residential buildings. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have come up against a situation of this kind.

I would like to ask the authorities on the regional and municipal levels to once again look at what happened in terms of fire safety in similar circumstances, both this month and this time of year.

However, first let us consider something else. Let us talk about what is being done. After all, I know that you have all been hard at work. However, I would like to hear from you first-hand about what is being done to bring this situation under control and help people. What do you believe matters the most right now, and what are the plans and prospects for resolving issues as they surface?

We will start with the Emergencies Ministry.

The Minister has the floor.

Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov: Mr President, colleagues,

In accordance with the decision of the Security Council working meeting of March 17, 2017, the Emergencies Ministry, together with federal agencies and regions, is implementing a package of supplementary measures to protect communities and social infrastructure from wildfires, taking into account how the situation is expected to change over time.

Siberian regions are facing the most challenging situation. It is for this reason that on April 28, 2017, a government commission decided to declare a state of emergency in all these regions. Special fire safety arrangements have been made in 51 regions of Russia.

By working together in these challenging circumstances, we were able to save 283 communities and more that 200,000 facilities, residential buildings and other important structures.

Unfortunately, residential buildings and social facilities in Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region, as well as in a number of other Russian regions, suffered due to challenging weather conditions and high winds, as fire safety requirements were not respected, which helped fires spread to residential buildings.

Through our combined efforts, we were able to prevent loss of life. More than 490 people were promptly evacuated. All the necessary decisions were taken on the ground.

Mr President, in accordance with your instructions, the working group of the government commission went to the site and promptly organised additional measures to accommodate the affected people, to deliver humanitarian aid to the towns and villages and to provide specific targeted assistance and support for each affected person and all the families. Particular attention has been paid to children and the elderly.

Currently, the federal agencies have taken all the appropriate decisions, and people are receiving immediate support to have their lost documents re-issued and to obtain targeted assistance. Composite groups are working on-site under the auspices of the Ministry of Construction, and are preparing proposals for restoring homes.

The Government has drafted a resolution to allocate 10,000 rubles to each affected person, and 100,000 rubles as compensation for lost property. The decision was also made to pay for accommodation for the affected people at temporary accommodation shelters. A number of other tasks are being carried out on-site.

Taking into account predictions for future developments as well as the weather forecast, the group of forces of the Unified State System for Emergency Preventing and Relief has been strengthened to include 135,000 people and 28,000 units of equipment. In addition, heavy-duty aircraft operated by the Emergencies Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the National Guard have been transferred on-site, which, at the request of the heads of the Russian regions and local self-government bodies, are charged with putting out fires and preventing wildfires from spreading to villages. The composite maneuvering forces and other groups are working on-site as well.

The National Centre for Crisis Management of the Emergencies Ministry and the corresponding local control centres are coordinating the activities of federal agencies and the Russian regions and the support for local self-government bodies. All necessary measures are being taken.

Mr President, the Unified State System for Emergency Prevention and Relief continues working on the task of protecting residential areas and social infrastructure from wildfires with regard to the forecast for the situation in our country’s regions.

In order to provide security during Victory Day celebrations, additional groups of forces have been deployed to all holiday venues, mobile management groups are on duty and an entire series of measures to provide assistance and support to people is in place.

That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Levchenko, please. Sayansk, Irkutsk Region.

Irkutsk Region Governor Sergei Levchenko: Good afternoon, Mr President, colleagues.

Indeed, in late April it was very hot here, with temperatures exceeding the average by 10 degrees Celsius and squall winds of over 20 metres per second. Houses and social infrastructure facilities have been destroyed in five districts of Irkutsk Region.

I will list them in decreasing order: 59 houses were destroyed in the village of Bubnovka, Kirensk District, with a population of 435. At the moment, all of these people have been provided with temporary accommodation, including children who go to schools in the village and in Kirensk.

We are in Sayansk now. Here, part of a building with 118 flats has burned down, as well as its roof; nine flats burned out completely. In the village of Vershina, Alarsky Region, eight houses were destroyed, affecting 17 people. Three homes were destroyed and eight people affected in Cheremkhovo. In the village of Pervoye Maya: two homes, four people. All this happened in the end of April.

We are currently issuing the necessary documents to provide people with compensation and to help them relocate from their burned-down houses.

In Kirensk, we need 170 million rubles to finish the construction of two five-storey buildings to relocate people before the end of September.

There is a third option for these people. We can give them land plots and, in accordance with the law, 125 cubic metres of timber so that they can build their houses.

Here, in Sayansk, plans call for repairing the roof of the affected building in May so that it won’t be flooded during rains, and then repair all burnt flats before the end of September. Inspections are held there now.

We are issuing the necessary documents for all cases. Tomorrow we will begin allocating the money Mr Puchkov spoke about: 100,000 rubles per person as compensation for lost property, and 50,000 rubles if property was partly lost. Psychologists are working with the people affected by this disaster.

As of now, there are no issues we are not able to deal with.

Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.

Mr Levchenko mentioned the village of Vershina. We have a video link-up to it.

Andrei Shchepotya: My name isShchepotya, I am the head of the village.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shchepotya, please say a few words about your assessment of the situation. What happened and what are the needs of your village? What you consider necessary to help people?

Andrei Shchepotya: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Burning grass spread to the village at 12 noon. I wasn’t there and it so happened that eight houses were destroyed. All residents were provided with psychological assistance, relocated to their relatives and the Governor and the district have promised to help. Assistance will also be provided by the federal Government.

Vladimir Putin: Of course.

You should speak to people directly, support them, while the federal and regional agencies will do their best to restore what has been lost.

Do you think that new houses should be built in your village, or do people want to relocate somewhere else?

Andrei Shchepotya: They were offered to relocate to the district centre, but they want to live and build houses in the village of Vershina.

Vladimir Putin: So be it.


Acting Head of the Republic of Buryatia Alexei Tsydenov: Mr President. So, my report: at 3.35 pm local time on 28 April, a fire was spotted near Cheremushki. The local firefighter service and volunteers were immediately called to the site.

Due to the high temperatures – plus 27 degrees Celsius – and winds of over 30 metres per second, it was impossible to suppress the fire as it spread to residential buildings. We called the Emergencies Ministry firefighters from Ulan-Ude; there were 81 people and 20 units of equipment, including an Il-76 plane with 42 tonnes of water.

Twenty-one buildings were destroyed, including seven buildings with permanent residence (14 people lived there); about 40 people were affected. There were no casualties or injured people; everybody has been provided with temporary accommodation, we have no problems with it.

Documents are being restored, everyone has already received a monetary aid of 10,000 rubles, and medical insurance policies have been restored. Four passports were lost in the fire, and we have issued temporary IDs, and new passports are in the process of being issued.

The residents of Ulan-Ude showed initiative – they are collecting aid for those affected: basic necessities and food. Two batches have already been distributed; we are issuing documents for restoring housing. Local residents want their residential buildings to be constructed here. They do not want to receive monetary equivalent and ask to restore the housing locally.

Overall, the situation with wildfires is stable: out of 24, only five fires are still occurring. For tomorrow, we expect to fully distinguish all of them. We hope it goes like this.

My report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Tsydenov has just said how our citizens responded to the disaster that other citizens are facing as the result of fires. I would like to personally thank all our people who promptly and sincerely responded to these sad events, these fires.

I know that both in Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region people took initiative and responded to these events and are taking every effort to help those affected. But I also expect that not only ordinary people but also all the authorities concerned respond to it in their official capacity, professionally and at high level.

I would like to say to Mr Tsydenov and Mr Levchenko: this is a definite testing of your competence and efficiency. I hope that all plans that were reported to me earlier and have just been reported, are implemented on schedule and with high quality.

And I also expect that the Emergencies Ministry will take every effort necessary to prevent spreading of wildfires in Siberia – actually, not only in Siberia but in other wildfire-prone regions of the country.

Right now, there is no need to interfere with your work, but I will certainly go there to inspect how the response and restoration activities are going.

I wish you all the best and good luck. Good bye.

May 2, 2017, Sochi