President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,
I already had the opportunity to speak with the Governor of Amur Region. I saw what is happening here from a helicopter and talked with several residents, mainly farmers. Just now I had a very large meeting with the heads of the regions affected by the flooding and the heads of ministries and agencies that are working to prevent such conditions, rescue people and recover lost property.
I wanted to meet with you specifically, the individuals who are working on the ground directly with the local residents, who are largely responsible for notifying them, recovering lost property and, importantly, assessing the damage that we will need to restore. So I will listen to each of your reports.
I would like to hear your assessments of what has occurred, what is happening now and people’s expectations. Let’s not waste words and simply get started.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to address you with several requests.
First, we need to establish good cooperation between all services and authorities involved in the struggle to overcome the flooding and its consequences. As you realise, different information is trickling down to me, including from citizens who are making direct appeals from affected areas. I won’t read all of them right now, but I assure you (and I’m sure you are aware of it for yourselves) this pertains to Khabarovsk Territory as well as other regions.
People cannot get through when calling the authorities’ official phone numbers. People are being evicted from homes that are not threatened by flooding; then, these people try to apply for compensation, and it turns out their property was not affected. There are many cases where people’s property and housing was damaged, they do not have any other housing, but this fact is not documented.
The reason I am bringing this up is, first of all, you still have time – there is in some places, like Komsomolsk – to prepare for the flooding, and it needs to be used as efficiently as possible to do all the necessary work.
Right now, nearly half of the Government of the Russian Federation is here in Khabarovsk Territory and the entire area that has been affected. Tomorrow, my colleagues will remain here and travel to the regions, to inspect and learn about the situation at a local level. We need to use this opportunity to list all the problems occurring here due to the flooding, articulate them and take them to the corresponding government commission, which we will be creating.
This commission will work on resolving issues pertaining to the protection of residential areas threatened by the advancing floodwater and overcoming the consequences of this flooding.
Here are the specific actions that must be taken. The first and most important is to help people. Someone asked whether compensation payments will be provided. Yes, they will be. These payments will cover lost personal property, and they will compensate major home repairs or the full loss of housing. This will include funds to be paid out for immediate needs, and more serious sums of money for the purposes I just listed.
Naturally, we will need to make provisions for transport infrastructure, communications, energy, and the delivery of food and motor fuels, and we will do this together, with your involvement. We will need to jointly ensure that things continue to function and that life does not come to a standstill.
The last colleague who spoke very rightly expressed his concerns, and we should not mince words here, everything is exactly as he described, this is the current state of affairs. You will soon be facing wintertime, and the flooding has not yet ended. Clearly, by that time we are unlikely to completely restore and fully build homes in the areas where we will need to build individual housing. So we need to consider in advance where to house people, how to provide for their basic needs, how they will live there, and then we need to launch the corresponding work in a timely manner.
All of this should become our joint, common work, our most important collaboration for at least the next 12 to 18 months. This is a clear fact. But the highest-priority tasks need to be taken care of now. And the most important message you can convey to the public is that we will not abandon anyone and we will not leave anyone in the lurch. We will work, and we will work hard.
But I am calling on you to not allow any red tape and to work as actively as possible. Of course, we cannot allow any exploiting of the situation or any type of infractions under any circumstances. Nobody can be allowed to take advantage of this situation to resolve any issues unrelated to recovering from the flood and help to those who are truly affected.
I want to thank you for everything you have already done. I hope you will continue working just as efficiently and actively in the upcoming future.
Thank you very much.