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More than 12,000 Muscovites come to remember victims of Siberian shopping mall fire

A crowd of people gathered at a specially allotted floor by the Corner Arselnal Tower of the Kremlin, foreign visitors eagerly joined the Russians

MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. More than 12,000 Muscovites came to the downtown Manezhnaya and Pushkin Squares on Tuesday to pay tribute to the victims of Sunday's fire in the Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, which claimed more than 60 human lives.

"The rallies were held at the initiatives of public associations and civic society activists at Manezhnaya and Pushkin Squares and in front of the building where the mission of Kemerovo region is located," a duty officer at the press service of Moscow City Interior Department told TASS.

A crowd of people gathered at a specially allotted floor by the Corner Arselnal Tower of the Kremlin at 17:00 hours, a TASS reporter said in a dispatch from the scene. Foreign visitors eagerly joined the Russians.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, city government officials, Moscow City Duma [city legislature] deputies, and members of the city’s Public Chamber, a consultative board reporting to the mayor came to attend the rally, too.

"I’d like to say the words of heartfelt solidarity with the families, relatives and friends of the dead and to convey humankind’s compassion to them from Moscow," the president of the Public Chamber, Konstantin Remchukov told TASS.

Tragedies like the ones in Kemerovo serve as reminders of the impossibility of compromise solutions between security and whatever considerations of economic efficiency or cost cutting, he said.

Remchukov voiced the hope at the same time that "fundamentally new decisions that will make it possible to raise the standards of safety and security for the places of mass attendance will be taken."

"There are no words to express the pain and grief," Moscow City Duma speaker Alexei Shaposhnikov said. "We keep all our words deep in our hearts."

Many of those who came to Manezhnaya Square did not know anything about the remembrance rally and did not have relatives in Kemerovo, a city that is the administrative center of the huge Kuzbass mining and steel smelting area in southern Siberia. Nonetheless they stayed behind on the square to display their sympathy and solidarity with the victims’ families.

"I know from my personal experience what the loss of near and dear ones means and I’d like to tell everyone who found themselves entangled in the tragedy: we’re together with you," said Anastasia Borodich, a student who had brought a bouquet of carnations and a toy to the improvised memorial to the victims of the fire.

Yelena Shmanenko, who had come on a business trip to Moscow from Uzbekistan, told TASS her fellow-Uzbekistanis were grieving the loss of human lives in Kemerovo together with Russia.

"You can’t stay indifferent at such moments because tragedies don’t have a country or ethnic identity," she said.

The stunning fire broke out on Sunday, March 25, on the fourth story of Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping and entertainment center in Kemerovo. It took away the lives of 64 people, including 41 children.

Investigators instituted a criminal case citing death through negligence, encroachments on fire precautions and providing of services inconsistent with safety requirements.

Law enforcers have detained five people, including the leaseholder of the premise where the blaze began, the CEO of the management companies, and the guard who turned off the fire alert system.