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Putin to visit Siberia’s Khakassia hit by wildfires

April 21, 2015, 1:39 UTC+3 MOSCOW

President decided to make a trip to see for himself what was being done to eliminate the consequences of the disaster

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MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday will make a trip to the Siberian republic of Khakassia, which recently suffered from wildfires to oversee wildfire relief measures

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the president would visit a temporary accommodation centre for people who lost their homes in the recent wildfires. "Apart from that, the president will hold a meeting on rehabilitation measures after the wildfires, restoration of housing and assistance to the families of those killed in the fires and those who lost their properties," he said.

According to Peskov, Putin decided to make a trip to Khakassia to see for himself what was being done to eliminate the consequences of the disaster.

It is expected that the president will raise the problem of perpetrated arsons. "It is possible to deal with wildfires but it is next to impossible to deal with perpetrated arsons," he said. In his words, in regions where thousands of hectares are being engulfed by fire, people themselves are staging arsons and burning grass. "Some madcaps are setting forests afire out of pure interest," Peskov said, adding that government reshuffled would not help solve the problem even if all executives were replaced.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin said at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday that human factor was to blame in 93% of fire cases.

Strong winds on April 12 fanned large-scale wildfires in Khakassia. The fire destroyed 1,328 private houses leaving 4,694 people homeless. A total of 30 people died, two are missing. According to preliminary estimates, the overall damage exceeds seven billion roubles (131.4 million U.S. dollars).

Appearing in a televised question-and-answer session on April 16, Putin promised that from five to six billion roubles would be allocated from the federal budget to build housing for those who had lost their homes in the wildfires. He said about 2,400 new houses were to be built by September. Apart from that, one to 1.5 billion roubles would go to the families of those killed. "The governor has been tasked to restore all infrastructure facilities, all houses by September 1, 2015," Putin said back then.

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