Meeting on wildfire relief
measures in Siberia
02 May 2017
Russia - 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,
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
We will start with the Emergencies Ministry.
The Minister has the floor.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov: Mr President,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.