The President expressed his condolences to those injured and to the families of the victims of a road accident earlier today on the Khabarovsk-Komsomolsk on Amur intercity highway. A collision between two intercity buses left 16 people dead and more than 60 injured.
Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Kiryanov briefed the meeting on the first results from the investigation into the accident.
Mr Putin asked Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to provide all necessary assistance through the Healthcare Ministry and social services to the victims’ families and the injured.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We have invited Mr Kiryanov here today to tell us about what happened in Khabarovsk Territory. Accidents have become too frequent an occurrence on our roads, including large accidents with great loss of life.
Mr Kiryanov, you have the floor.
Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Kiryanov: Mr President, colleagues,
A tragic event occurred today on the road connecting the cities of Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur when two buses collided. We are looking at human error as one of the causes. Road repairs that were underway in the area is another cause we are examining. They were installing road safety barriers and had not taken all the proper accompanying safety measures. As a result, there are 15 dead so far, and more than 50 injured. Children are also among the dead and injured.
Vladimir Putin: So the causes are not clear yet?
Viktor Kiryanov: The investigation will establish the exact causes, but I think there is reason to assume human error on the part of the driver, who perhaps was not keeping to the speed limit, as he crossed into the oncoming lane. Mr President, I have already received images from the site of the accident, and they show that there was only one road sign visible on the vehicle carrying out the repair work, while warning signs should be installed before the work site itself, at 300 metres distance, so that drivers can reduce speed and be aware that there is repair work up ahead. All of this needs to be examined.
Vladimir Putin: I express my condolences to the victims’ families and to everyone injured in this accident. I already asked in May this year to think about further measures to improve safety on our roads. This must be done.
Mr Shuvalov, the floor is yours.
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov: Mr President, colleagues,
Mr President, at a meeting you chaired on May 7, you tasked the Government with taking a more systematic and serious approach to road safety. We still have too high a road toll every year, with many killed and injured.
Let me give you the latest figures for the first half of 2015. A total 79,220 road accidents took place over this time, which is 6.4 percent less than the first half of 2014. A total 11,036 people were killed in these accidents – 15.8 percent fewer than over the first half of 2014. There were 99,779 people injured, and this is down by 10.3 percent on the same period of 2014.
We have become better at catching drunk drivers. Over these six months, the number of drivers caught driving while drunk increased by 2 percent. Regarding accidents, there were 6,628 accidents involving drunk drivers, 1,342 people were killed, 16 percent fewer than in the same period in 2014, and 9,312 people were injured, down by 9 percent on the figure for the first half of 2014. We cannot be satisfied with these results however, because the human costs are still immense.
Following your instruction, the Government began drafting a package of measures to bring down the death and injury toll on our roads. Your instruction was issued on May 15, following a meeting of the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators, and since then, we have discussed our action plan and coordinated it with the Presidential Executive Office.
This is a comprehensive programme of 32 points. It is designed to be implemented actively over the course of one year. Some of the measures will go beyond the first half of 2016, but overall, most of the measures will be implemented in 2015 and the first half of 2016.
The measures concern new types of interaction with information resources. As you know, there are resources that drivers use to check, for example, whether there are traffic jams on particular routes. We propose adding to these resources information on dangerous stretches of road, places where accidents are most frequent. We also need to set out in law regional and municipal executive authorities’ responsibility for identifying the most dangerous stretches of road.
In the information area, we will also set up feedback channels between the public and the authorities on identifying these dangerous stretches, problems on the roads, what is being done about them, and whether the authorities are taking the needed action within due time.
We also plan to clarify requirements to official transport operators – legal entities or individuals engaged in transporting freight or people. We will do this by the end of the year.
We have a clear awareness of where improvements must be made. We have made progress over these last years. Medical help is much more effective than it was before, but we know that we need to use modern communications technology and the possibility of getting injured people to hospital by helicopter. We will therefore draw up a programme specifically for using helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals.
We think that particular focus should go on cultivating a law-abiding attitude among the public. Mr President, we plan to work together with the State Duma to draft rules of behaviour currently absent in our laws. There is a lot of debate among lawyers about these rules. We ask for your support on this issue. We want to define in law what constitutes dangerous driving, for example. Our laws do not give a definition of this concept, but in many countries laws do define and set responsibility for it, including criminal penalties if drivers deliberately create a dangerous situation (and we see this on the roads often enough). Drivers should be held responsible for this kind of behaviour.
We already adopted legal restrictions on drunk drivers, and from July 1 this year, a new provision went into effect that sets criminal liability for repeat incidents of drunk driving.
We think we could introduce provisions similar to those in other countries, when people caught drunk driving have their vehicle seized. Belarus recently introduced such a provision and there have been a lot fewer drunk drivers since then. Lawyers say that this provision is not entirely fair because drunk drivers, in many cases, are driving a vehicle belonging to someone else. But the lawyers do think it should be possible to draft a legal provision that is in keeping with Russian Federation Constitution’s provisions. People have to be clear about their responsibility and the penalties involved, including material penalties. These material penalties would be in some way placed on the vehicle the driver was driving.
We will regularly review this action plan at the government road safety commission’s meetings, and will travel to the regions, both those that are doing best in carrying out the road safety programme, and those where the road safety situation is not in the best shape.
The recent road accidents in Krasnoyarsk Territory, now in Khabarovsk Territory, and not long ago in Daghestan, force us to be more vigilant and work more actively, because we are still losing too many lives on the roads. Our road toll is still very high indeed compared to European countries. We have all been working over the last 10–15 years to improve the road safety situation. The situation was very bad overall. Mr Kiryanov has all the documents and statistics for these years. Things are changing for the better, but very slowly, and above all because of irresponsible behaviour.
We realise that the authorities at the various levels bear particular responsibility for the state of our roads. It is true that our roads are not in the best state, although we have been spending a lot of money on building new roads and maintaining old ones. But the human factor remains the biggest concern, either inability to cope with the situations while driving, drunk driving, or inattentiveness.
Vladimir Putin: Good. But all of this will need to be implemented gradually.
Mr Medvedev, look into what is needed and organise all required assistance for the families of the victims and for the injured in Khabarovsk Territory, through the Healthcare Ministry and social services, I mean.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: Yes. We will do this, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Mr Nikitin, how are the preparations for MAKS [air show] going?
First Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Gleb Nikitin: Mr President, we will be holding the MAKS air show for the twelfth time now. Over these years, it has become a recognised international brand. We are therefore taking a thorough approach to getting ready for MAKS 2015. This is more than just an air salon; it is a real international aviation festival. We will try to maintain our level of course. We have always counted among the top international air shows, including the events at Farnborough, Le Bourget, Singapore, and Dubai.
Of course, the geopolitical situation and the position a number of governments have taken has had an inevitable effect on the number of foreign participants, but this effect is far less than we thought it might be. Delegations and exhibits from countries such as Ukraine and Israel have had their places taken by companies from Turkey, South Africa and China. The Chinese have expanded their total exhibition area three-fold. The main players on the aerospace market, companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney and others, continue to participate in full.
Thirty countries and 156 exhibitors, that is to say, 156 companies, will take part. Airbus will send its newest passenger plane, the A350, to take part in both the ground exhibition and flight demonstrations. A total 180 aircraft will be presented at the ground exhibition. By comparison, 130 aircraft were on show at Le Bourget.
As usual, we are organising a spectacular air show. It will be unique in the world in terms of difficulty. The Krylya Tavridy air acrobatics group will take part in the air show for the first time, flying Yak-130 planes.
Mr President, all events at the air show will be organised at the highest level. We hope to see you there and hope that you will take part.
Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.
Mr Donskoy, we have put much effort into preparing our application to expand our section of the Arctic continental shelf and submitting it to the United Nation’s relevant commission. How is this work going, and what is the current situation?
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy: Mr President,
I can inform you that we successfully submitted our application to set the external limits of Russia’s continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean to the secretariat of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
A summary of our application has already been published on the UN’s official site. We saw it last night. This concludes the latest stage in our work to establish Russia’s sovereign rights over an additional section of more than 1 million square kilometres of continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. We estimate this region to hold around 5 million tonnes of hydrocarbon resources.
A number of agencies worked hard to prepare this application: the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Defence Ministry, Russian Academy of Sciences, and many specialists, scholars and experts. Over 2005–2014, an enormous amount of research was carried out. We surveyed the seabed, did mapping, carried out seismic surveys, and collected samples of seabed sediment from a depth of several kilometres. This work used technology one of its kind in the world.
As I reported earlier, the last expedition took place on October 28, 2014 and studied the Podvodniky Basin and Amundsen Basin beyond the 200-mile limit. The studies took place in August-October last year. This expedition crossed the North Pole, where such studies had never previously been undertaken. We were thus able to obtain data and material that let us affirm with confidence that much of the Arctic Ocean seabed is the natural continuation of the Russian part of the Eurasian continent and should be included in Russia’s continental shelf.
The next stage is for the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to examine the application. Going on our past experience, this might require further studies to be carried out, and also talks and diplomatic work with our Arctic neighbours, Denmark and Canada, which are also submitting applications. The main thing here is that this work will be going on through the UN now, in other words, it will take place in accordance with international law. We hope that the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which is a body made up of experts from various countries, will ultimately come to a balanced decision, and we hope that this decision, like last year’s one, will be positive. If you recall, the commission came to a positive conclusion last year on our application concerning the middle part of the Sea of Okhotsk. We hope it will be positive this time too.
Vladimir Putin: When will this happen, in November?
Sergei Donskoy: Mr President, one of the officials from the UN secretariat spoke last night and said that the application would be examined at the next session, in spring next year. We will look into all possible options for getting it examined as soon as possible.