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Officials accused in Krymsk floods case could have prevented tragedy

August 19, 2013, 14:41 UTC+3

“People found themselves vulnerable not only to the elements, but, as the investigation has found out, to officials’ indifference

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MOSCOW, August 19 (Itar-Tass) - Officials accused over devastating flash floods in the Krymsk district of Russia's southern Krasnodar region last year could have prevented a tragedy which killed 153 people, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said on Monday.

"Evidently the local infrastructure could not and was not designed to hold back the elements, but local officials had all possibilities to adequately prepare and face that challenge," Markin said.

“As the first step, they should have forecast the calamity itself, knowing that Krymsk is situated in the lowland, while after getting a warning from weathermen, they should have taken measures to evacuate people,” he added. “It is difficult to imagine what these officials were feeling at the moment - indifference, dismay, panic, or they just simply hoped for a miracle,” Markin said in comments on sentences passed by the Abinsky district court on four local officials on Monday.

“People found themselves vulnerable not only to the elements, but, as the investigation has found out, to officials’ indifference," the spokesman said. "Even after the officials themselves had realized the scope of the disaster coming to the city with their silent inactivity, the defendants tried to dodge responsibility by compiling and signing several backdated documents which they believed would excuse them. These falsifications were easily disclosed by experienced investigators and became materials of the criminal case which is as vast as 200 volumes,” Markin said.

Reading out of the verdict continues and the process is expected to take at least three days.

The four officials accused of negligence, forgery and fraud attempt are the head of the Krymsk district, Vassily Krutko, Krymsk mayor Vladimir Ulanovsky, head of the Nizhnebakanskaya settlement Irina Ryabchenko and acting head of the district department for emergency situations and civil protection Viktor Zhdanov.

The public prosecution has asked for six years in prison for Krutko, 3.5 years in prison for Ulanovsky, 3.5 years of suspended sentence for Ryabchenko and 4.5 years with a penalty of 80,000 rubles for Zhdanov.

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