Meeting on wildfire relief in Buryatia and Irkutsk Region.

Russian President held a meeting on disaster relief measures following wildfires in April 2017, which damaged a number of towns and villages in Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region. The meeting participants discussed the progress in reconstruction work and compensation payments to the wildfire victims.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After the meeting, Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.

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Excerpts from transcript of meeting on wildfire relief in Buryatia and Irkutsk Region.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon,

Colleagues, we all know very well that last spring this region suffered from wildfires. Residential areas in Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region were affected. Fire destroyed houses and outbuildings.

We discussed relief measures on May 15 at a meeting in Irkutsk. Today I would like to hear about the progress, including your reports on compensation payments to the people affected by wildfires.

I found certain discrepancies in my papers and would like to ask my colleagues a question regarding the actual amount of the funding allocated. As far as I know, due to time-consuming bureaucracy, the money was provided later than planned. But the question itself is how much is required for rebuilding the houses and other buildings in the first place – and how much was allocated.

Meeting on wildfire relief in Buryatia and Irkutsk Region.
Meeting on wildfire relief in Buryatia and Irkutsk Region.
This concerns Buryatia as well. The village of Cheremushki is well known. I spoke to the residents during Direct Line. My understanding is it is the only affected residential area in Buryatia. The Irkutsk Region had more victims.

The Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities gave me one figure while I see that the planned funding is different. I would like to get to the bottom of this and find out what is going on with this money.

The Government received all the necessary documents on August 2 and the money was transferred to the regions. I would like to hear from the regional heads whether this money will suffice. I also would like the Emergencies Minister to report on the estimated damage. I also requested the presence of representatives from municipalities. I would like to hear your opinion on the situation. Let us begin.

Let us start with Mr. Tsydenov. Please.

Acting Head of the Republic of Buryatia Alexei Tsydenov:

Mr. President,

On April 28, 2017, as many as 28 structures, including 20 houses, burnt down in Cheremushki. Nineteen of these houses were occupied, by 49 people, or 19 families. One house was used as a sports center. We are supporting all 19 families and not only with new housing. At the meeting in Irkutsk, you also gave us instructions to take measures regarding outbuildings. Therefore, we are helping with those too.

(Alexei Tsydenov reported on the construction of new houses and compensation payments. During a videoconference with the village of Cheremushki, Oksana Trishkina, head of the municipality that includes Cheremushki, answered the President’s questions. Great Patriotic War veteran and local resident Ivan Goloshchapov also participated in the conversation.)

Ivan Goloshchapov:

Mr. President, we know very well that when a disaster happens, you are always with us, the people.

When you gave instructions to the republic’s officials, they immediately started acting on them. All necessary help was organized, and the people received financial aid. The area was cleared and prepared for construction. Construction materials arrived timely, and the construction of new houses began. My house, for example, is already finished. I have already moved in and am very pleased and grateful to all the construction workers and our republic’s authorities.

We received great help from volunteers. Emergencies Ministry volunteers were exceptionally helpful. We want to express our sincere gratitude.

Next to me is the head of our village. She has been with us since the very first day of this emergency, almost like a mother with her children.

Mr. President, we want to ask you something. We really hope that you will run for president during the next election. We will be very happy if you do.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin:

All right, I will think about it.

Can you tell me: the house in the background, who does it belong to?

Oksana Trishkina:

It is the first house completed. It belongs to Olga Fedorets from Cheremushki. Further down, you can see more houses. The next house belongs to this man next to me, Leonid Shevtsov.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, Mr. Shevtsov, please take the microphone. You have seen your house. Are you pleased with the quality?

Leonid Shevtsov:

Yes, I am. We have found a common language with builders, and they instantly respond to all our comments. Sometimes we help them, too. So everything is all right. I am happy with such a short period of construction.

Vladimir Putin:

All right, I wish you happiness in your new homes and hope everything will be completed properly.

Alexei Tsydenov:

Credit should be given to our volunteers. One guy is standing there. Volunteers cleared everything that was burnt. They drove away 53 lorries with whatever was left after the fire. People got their belongings together themselves.

Vladimir Putin:

Volunteers deserve special gratitude. Thank you for your sympathy and warm attitude to people.

I hope all work will be completed on time and with the required quality. Supervision is necessary in any case. I respect builders, but this work should be completed and its quality checked.

<…>

Vladimir Putin:

Do any of those present here have more questions?

Vadim Semenov:

Yes, Mr President. May I?

Vladimir Putin:

Go ahead please.

Vadim Semenov:

Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.

I apologize, but this is not about fires, our current subject. I will distract you a little from sad thoughts. I will say a good thing. Cheremkhovo is one of Russia’s oldest coal-mining cities. This year our city turns a hundred years old, and this is a great anniversary for us. Plus we will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the start of coal mining on this territory. There is also the national holiday, Miner's Day.

Vladimir Putin with Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.
Vladimir Putin with Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.
Mr. President, I am asking you on behalf of our residents. I addressed you during Direct Line, but I understand you were mostly concerned with problematic issues and we are not raising them. We would simply like to invite you to come to our city of Cheremkhovo for its 100th anniversary.

I am sorry for the self-conceit, of course. I even prepared an invitation for you but crumpled it slightly out of excitement. I understand you will not come because you are very busy, but please send a message of greetings to our people.

Vladimir Putin:

All right.

Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Vadim Semenov, Irkutsk Region.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Vadim Semenov, Irkutsk Region.

Vadim Semenov:

In 1921, Vladimir Lenin wrote a letter to Cheremkhovo miners. For almost a hundred years, every office, every corner of our city has had a stand that reads “Lenin’s letter to Cheremkhovo miners.” Send a message, and I promise you that in a hundred years there will be a stand in every corner of our city that will read: “Vladimir Putin’s message to Cheremkhovo miners on the city’s 100th anniversary.”

Vladimir Putin:

All right, I will check on this.

Vadim Semenov:

Mr. President, people mostly talk to you about problems, and I would like to thank you for such an important measure as the relocation of people from unfit housing. All our residents are deeply grateful to you. Our city lives a very hard life although we have done a lot of useful things for the country. Regrettably, few people paid attention to the problems of our people prior to you. They lived in the barracks built in 1932 almost up until now. Carrying out your executive order, we demolished over 60,000 square meters of rundown housing and people received new flats. Thank you very much.

Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.
Vadim Semenov, Mayor of Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Region.
As for what the veteran said, I agree with him, although I am not a veteran but a resident of a more modern Russia. We would like you to be the leader of our country. You can always rely on us. We will support you.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you very much.

Anything else? Do you have more questions on this subject – fires? No.

To sum up, everything should be completed. The final stage is always the most difficult part of work. It gets cold quickly here. The climate is severe, and hence this is my message to the heads of the regions and municipalities – it is necessary to see this work through. You should not relax until the last victim is content. And we will check on it in Moscow.

Thank you. All the best. Goodbye.

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