Restoring the region’s transport infrastructure and providing assistance to affected residents were the main topics discussed.
Mr Putin said that he will soon sign an executive order on financial aid for people affected by the flooding.
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Concluding remarks at meeting with heads of urban districts and municipalities in Jewish Autonomous Region
Vladimir Putin: The situation is clear overall. I saw how people are working. They are working hard and effectively, and they have enough equipment. This is the truth. All that’s needed from all of you is a professional attitude to the situation and attentiveness to people’s needs. This is extremely important.
There are many questions regarding aid and compensation and so on. I say again that this matter will be settled in the presidential executive order the Government and Presidential Executive Office are drafting right now. It will be signed within the next few days. We will follow the same overall parameters that were set after the flooding in Krymsk in Krasnodar Territory, where people were paid compensation of 100,000 roubles per individual for damage to movable property – this is not per family, but per individual.
The one thing I want you and all of us to remember is that this money is not for immediate needs but for replacing movable property, and this sort of property can be bought only when people have a home in which to put it. This therefore calls for synchronised action: either there is a house in which to put these objects (furniture, fridge, television), or an apartment that can be purchased, either rapidly on the market if such housing is available, or in housing construction projects that are already more than two-thirds close to completion.
But in your case, you need to concentrate above all on preserving villages as viable settlements. Building should be only on land that is safe from flooding. You will need to find this land and use it, but this is the only kind of land that should be used.
We also need to think about future drainage and irrigation installations, flood protection installations, and river dredging. But we need to think too about making sure that we do not settle people in flood-risk areas in future. We should not allow such settlement, because ultimately it ends in tragedy for the people, and creates problems for the authorities too.
There are complicated situations, extraordinary cases. People wrote to me saying, for example, “The officials in Nikolayevka village refused our compensation application because they say we are not registered at this address and do not have documents to prove our ownership of the house.” This kind of thing can happen, and we need to base ourselves not on formal procedures but on the actual circumstances of each situation. If this was these people’s one and only constant home and their neighbours and the village authorities can confirm that they really did live there, they should be included in the list of people needing help and should receive assistance. We cannot just abandon them in the street. How can we imagine such a thing? What kind of country is it that would abandon people in such a situation? This is completely unacceptable. I draw this to your attention. These are other cases too, involving unregistered marriages and so on. Each specific case needs to be sorted out. I ask you to go about this work very carefully and attentively.
As for evacuation of livestock, this has taken place in some areas. We flew over the village of Leninskoye before and I saw from the helicopter that animals were wandering about in the middle of the water and no effort was being made to get them out. If efforts were made, they were not enough, or were not completed. At least the people have been evacuated fortunately — we see that this is working.
I saw how the rescuers are working and I want to say a big thank you to them again. The work is going ahead briskly and you can see that everyone has the needed energy and the equipment is working. This is good to see.
Regarding transport, you need to pay utmost attention to the transport systems. Do you have specialists out here who can assess the situation?
Reply: We have 22 subcontractor organisers with 500 vehicles working in the Far East Federal District as a whole. They have all been mobilised and are at the governors’ disposal for their operations’ needs.
Vladimir Putin: I’m talking not about this but about specialists who can assess for you first, and then for me, the priorities for rebuilding infrastructure without which the region simply cannot function normally.
Reply: Mr President, starting on August 15, we have been sending specialists here to make these evaluations together with local specialists.
Vladimir Putin: How many of them are there?
Reply: We have the deputy head of the roads agency working here constantly, and the head of the roads agency, who was just in Yakutia and Magadan Region.
Vladimir Putin: This is a huge region and he will have a hard time spreading himself between all these different places. Let me ask the municipal heads, have you actually seen these specialists?
We need to get people out here who will assess the situation with their own eyes and send the information to you. But this has to happen fast. They should be here by tomorrow.
Mr Vinnikov [Governor of Jewish Autonomous Region], how many temporary shelters have you opened?
Governor of Jewish Autonomous Region Alexander Vinnikov: We have ten open at the moment.
Vladimir Putin: Ten. As I understand it, some of these centres will be working until next spring, because there is no time to build a house or apartment building in six weeks, and the amount of readily available housing space in the Jewish Autonomous Region that can be moved into within the coming six weeks is not so great. So will all of these centres be operating until next spring?
Alexander Vinnikov: The centres in Leninskoye and Babstovo will stay open.
Vladimir Putin: What are the conditions there like?
Alexander Vinnikov: In Babstovo it is a former student dormitory that is being used.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Vinnikov, I won’t put you in an awkward position. The situation there is not the best. It’s one thing to see it from a helicopter, and another thing to actually go there and look inside. People are writing to say that it is not easy there.
Alexander Vinnikov: Yes, it’s not a holiday camp, that’s true.
Vladimir Putin: I understand that it’s not a holiday camp, but the conditions have to be decent all the same.
I won’t read everything they are writing, but the people in these ‘barracks’ you showed me from above are writing to say that are being fed a prison-gruel type thing that their kids won’t eat. What kind of situation is this? Do I need to put somebody behind bars to make sure that people get fed decently? Sort out this issue immediately.
Mr Topilin [Minister of Labour and Social Protection], do you hear me? I want you to go there today or tomorrow and check it all out with your own eyes. You are the minister responsible for social issues, social protection. Go out there and see how they are addressing the social issues. Go to these two temporary shelters that have taken people evacuated from Leninskoye county. The Regional Development Minister will visit all the others. Go there personally and report to me on the situation.
If there are problems with food supplies, organisational problems, let the Emergency Situations Ministry deal with it at the first stage, and then the regional authorities need to take over and organise supplies in modern and civilised fashion, so that people are not in need and can live in normal civilised conditions.
The same goes for schools. We already spoke about it, but I draw to your attention that school-age children must go to school. This has to be organised in the places where they live if possible, or else they will have to move to places where they can go to school, even to other regions if necessary. Some of the children could be sent for the new school term to the Orlyonok camp in Krasnodar Territory, or to the Okean camp here in Primorye Territory, perhaps even changing the shifts a little. I will speak about this with the relevant regional heads and the Education Ministry today. There are children’s centres in other parts of the Russian Federation that also have a full school programme going on. This all needs to be examined. Look into it together with the Education Ministry and settle the matter.
Vaccination of the local population has to be carried out. Ms Skvortsova [Health Minister] is hard at work here. Remind her of the places in need of attention, especially places where water is now approaching livestock burial sites. This is very important. It is something that needs constant monitoring and you need to have the specialists here to keep constant watch on the situation.
That’s it. I wish you all good luck. Thank you for your work. I hope the situation will show some positive change. A lot depends on you and I am counting on you. You must do everything possible to help people and keep the settlements here alive. This is a very important part of the country.
Thank you very much.