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Putin positive about local authorities' work to tackle wildfires in Siberia

CHITA, April 25. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a positive evaluation of the local authorities’ response to wildfires in Russia’s Far East and Siberia during a working meeting in Siberia’s Trans-Baikal Region on Thursday.

"Since the beginning of spring, the wildfire situation in the Far Eastern Federal district has remained complicated," Putin said. "Thanks God, there were no casualties, and the response was fairly prompt, compared to similar situations in past years."

"We have faced similar emergencies in the Far Eastern, Siberian and other federal districts. So, the procedures are largely clear, the aftermath of the fire should be dealt with as promptly and efficiency as possible. First of all, we need to focus on helping the people. This has always been the case and I hope that nothing changes this time," he said.

Compensations and recovery

During the meeting, Putin tasked the local authorities with rebuilding houses for those who lost their homes in the wildfires.

"We need to outline the plan of practical measures to rebuild homes and implement it promptly within the soonest possible timeframe, before the cold season begins. The acting governor said the detailed plan will be prepared before May 10. After that, we will gather once again, in Moscow, and I want you to report to me about this plan. In September I will come here again to see how this plan is being implemented," Putin said.

The region’s acting governor Alexander Osipov told Putin the construction works will be completed by October 15, compensations are to be paid before June 15.

"Of course, rebuilding homes also requires rebuilding basic social infrastructure," Putin said. "We need to encourage the people’s aspirations not to leave their native places."

"We will also need to promptly solve the issue of restoring lost documents," he added. "Besides, those affected by the wildfires must receive all payments envisaged by the law."

The Russian president also tasked the local authorities with helping farmers, who sustained losses as a result of the disaster. He also ordered to pay compensations to those who had lost their cattle.

"We need to help the people and compensate for those losses as well," he said. "People living here are far from being wealthy."

"As far as I know, the work to restore the documents and allocate compensations is already under way. I task the regional authorities with constantly monitoring the implementation of these tasks and the federal agencies and municipal bodies - with offering all the required assistance to the people," Putin continued.

The Russian president also told the authorities to step up the wildfire prevention efforts and raise the people’s awareness on the issue, especially before the picnic season traditionally begins in Russia in early May.

"As far as criminal cases [into the Trans-Baikal region wildfires] are concerned, there is no need to worry about them. They were launched not to find scapegoats and shift the blame on someone," he said. "They were launched to look into the reasons of the disaster and see how officials were coping with it."

State of emergency

During the meeting, the region’s acting governor asked Putin to prepare an emergency situations decree similar to the one issued after the devastating floods in the Far East in 2013.

"As the damage has already topped 1 billion rubles, I would like to to ask you to consider the possibility of conducting the disaster recovery work in line with your decree. In other words, I would like to ask you to adopt a decree on our emergency situation, similar to the one issued for the Far East in 2013," Osipov said. "It would speed up the recovery and help to compensate the people for all their losses."

Putin replied: "Very well. This can be done, and, probably, this should be done. We will prepare this decree jointly with the government."

Wildfire aftermath

During the meeting, Osipov gave Putin the updated statistics about the wildfires. According to him, 85 people sought medical assistance as a result of the fires.

"Here are the consequences: 85 people sought medical assistance, 34 people are receiving medical treatment, eight are in serious condition. There were no deaths," Osipov said, adding that those injured will receive compensations of 200,000 or 400,000 rubles.

"The losses are estimated at 1 billion rubles," he said.

According to the official, the wildfires affected 17 settlements in 13 southern and southeastern districts of the Trans-Baikal Region. A total of 125 residential buildings were totally destroyed and 44 were damaged. About 12,000 heads of cattle were killed.