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Putin arrives in Khabarovsk to congratulate locals on New Year

December 31, 2013, 17:42 UTC+3 KHABAROVSK
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KHABAROVSK, December 31. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk on a surprise visit to welcome the New Year with the local residents who lost their homes in this summer’s devastating floods.

On the very even of the New On the very even of the New Year, Putin called at a temporary accommodation center to speak with people and to invite them to a New Year gala reception at the Khabarovsk House of Culture.

According to the presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, on his way to Khabarovsk, Putin made a stopover in Chita to invite the widow of Sergeant Bair Banzaraktsayev, who died on duty when taking part in a clear-up operation after the flooding to the reception in Khabarovsk. The woman and her three children arrived in Khabarovsk by the presidential jet.

“Unlike other countries (for instance, China that was also affected by the flood), Russia managed to avoid serious human victims but for one soldier who died doing his job. And it was the only victim,” Peskov said.

Apart from that, among guests at the New Year gala are servicemen who displayed real heroism when they were standing waist-deep in water holding the anti-flood dam that was about to collapse. At the most critical moment, the servicemen hoisted the flag of their brigade.

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