President addresses nation on fire emergency

As the fire emergency continues to devastate families and homes, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has addressed the nation on the current situation. Averting further disaster and helping those affected are priorities.

President Medvedev: “Fires now rage across Russia. The Emergency Ministry, together with other agencies, is doing everything possible to localize the fire and, most importantly, save people. I’ve given instructions to the Defense Ministry and other security forces to get involved in this task. We must do everything we can to counter this natural disaster, which is not easy at all.

“The situation remains very difficult, the heat's still here, and the forecasts are bleak. Therefore, the threat of new fires persists. I’ve signed a decree today announcing the emergency situation in a number of regions of our country which are hardest hit by the fires. But much will depend on our actions. It’s difficult to stay in the city – it’s stuffy and very hot. People want to escape to the countryside. That’s where we should be very careful and cautious. We must remember that one dropped match could result in disaster. It’s not mere words: that’s how it is.

“Our main task today is to help the victims to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible, as more than 2,000 people have been left homeless. There are a lot of children, elderly and ill people among them. Many families have lost everything in the fire. That’s a big tragedy. The government understands its unconditional responsibility. I’ve given instructions to the government and to the regional authorities to allocate money to each and every one who has incurred losses.

“I have talked to the regional leaders who reported to me about what had been done and about the allocated money. This money is already being allocated. The subject of housing restoration is probably the most difficult one. But we must provide housing to everyone who has been left homeless. And this should be done before it gets cold. This decision has already been taken, funds have been allocated. We must act immediately, that’s why the existing bureaucratic timeframe will be shortened. I will assign certain contractors who will immediately get down to work – without any tenders. In this situation it’s justified. The government will live up to its obligations.

“People are already uniting to help those who have lost everything in a single moment. That’s common practice around the world,” the president concluded.