Meeting on the situation in the regions affected by floods 2013-08-17 13:15:00 Sochi Vladimir Putin chaired a videoconference on the situation in the regions affected by floods. The President heard reports on the situation in the Amur Region, Khabarovsk Territory and Jewish Autonomous Area during a videoconference. * * * Excerpts from videoconference on the situation in the regions affected by floods President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I brought you together to discuss the situation in the Russian regions most affected by flooding. The situation remains critical in many parts of the country, but today we will talk about those places where conditions are particularly acute. These include the Jewish Autonomous Area, Khabarovsk Territory and the Amur Region. You know the current situation yourselves: large areas are flooded as are dozens of villages, while communication lines, roads, bridges and power lines have been damaged. The damage is very extensive. The most important thing that we managed to do was to prevent human casualties. I want to thank everyone who took part in getting the evacuation points ready and in the evacuation itself for their effective work. But we cannot relax yet, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Therefore, I would ask you to report on how the situation is developing. And at the end [of our meeting], the head of the government’s working group, Emergencies Minister [Vladimir Puchkov], will sum up the interim results of our work. <…> Vladimir Putin: With regards to some of the proposals that were made during today’s meeting. Regarding railroad fares and transportation through or in affected areas: railroads are working normally, but the situation in the regions remains abnormal. Of course, we must take additional measures to resolve problems currently faced by the regions affected by floods. The Emergencies Ministry, Transport Ministry and Regional Development Ministry, together with the Finance Ministry will have to make proposals on how to address these issues, either by reducing rates or by providing subsidies to relevant companies. This is a technical question, but it must be worked out quickly. I would ask you to do so. The same goes for the possible extension of lease payments and loans. It would be unreasonable to shift everything exclusively onto financial organisations, but if something needs to be shifted onto them, then we need to understand what condition these organisations – both leasing companies and banks – would find themselves in. Therefore, the Finance Ministry and [financial] organisations themselves must analyse the situation and make suggestions, and do so as quickly as possible. Now in general, what I wanted to talk about. The first and most important thing – I will say this once again, I have done so repeatedly and now you have too – is minimising the negative effects on citizens. We must relocate everyone who is in a flood zone or potentially threatened to a safe place, which must be set up in advance. We need to ensure water supply, provide medication, clean up affected areas, and give timely vaccinations. As for other issues, all of these regions – we all know this well, and the Energy Minister [Alexander Novak] just mentioned it too – are in quite a difficult climatic zone. So despite current difficulties with floods, you must not forget to prepare for winter; it will be here in the blink of an eye. Of course, we have to continue to monitor the situation around hydraulic facilities very carefully. And in conclusion, I would like to say the following: there is no doubt that we will rebuild agriculture facilities, bridges, roads, communication and power lines, in short everything that we might call hardware. The task is to protect people from harm and – most importantly – prevent irreversible losses. I would ask you to please focus on this. The situation really is difficult, but it can be controlled and is currently under control. And if we work together as a team, and coordinating our work is the most important thing, then we really can minimise losses and prevent irreparable ones. I would ask all the leaders of Russian regions currently facing problems with high water and flooding – as the problem is on-going – to personally deal with these issues. No one should be left behind and no one should be lost; I am referring to the people who live in your regions. I would ask you to provide daily reports, and to report immediately if the situation were to suddenly change. Thank you very much everyone for your work. Let’s continue, and I would ask that you take the issues we have discussed today extremely seriously. Thank you once again, all the best, and here’s to work.