President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Shoigu, we are celebrating Rescue Workers’ Day on Sunday. I want to congratulate you, and I ask you to congratulate on my behalf all of the Emergencies Ministry’s personnel, all those who do this difficult work with professionalism and help a huge number of people in our country.
Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Sergei Shoigu: Thank you, Mr President. I will certainly pass on your congratulations and I thank you for giving our work such praise.
Dmitry Medvedev: What are your 2009 results?
Sergei Shoigu: The main results this year are that, despite the tragic events at the end of the year, we succeeded in reducing the number of deaths caused by fires by almost 11 percent.
Expressed as actual figures rather than a percentage this represents more than 1,700 additional lives saved. Five years ago, we annually had 22,000 deaths caused by fires, but over 11 months of this year we had 11,500 deaths. In other words, we have almost halved the number of deaths due to fires over these last five years.
The same goes for drownings. This year, we cut the number of drowning deaths by almost 2,000. We hope that this trend will continue through to the end of the year.
In 2009, we defused more than 28,000 explosive devices – shells, mines, and almost 500 air bombs.
Dmitry Medvedev: Is this the Great Patriotic War’s legacy?
Sergei Shoigu: Yes. Also, in accordance with your instruction, we progress with mine-clearing in Serbia after the NATO bombings. Cluster bombs are the biggest problem, of course, because they are rather difficult to neutralise. But our specialists are nevertheless carrying out this work. Otherwise, we are continuing our missions as planned.
We are now completing the tasks that were set regarding Afghanistan. If you recall, a month ago, jointly with our German colleagues we delivered Mi-8 medical rescue helicopters.
Dmitry Medvedev: We delivered two helicopters.
Sergei Shoigu: Yes. This delivery was partially financed by Germany.
Dmitry Medvedev: It was a joint project with Germany.
Sergei Shoigu: That’s right. Today, we are additionally delivering 52 KAMAZ trucks equipped for transporting humanitarian aid.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is important because the situation in Afghanistan has an impact on the situation in Central Asia in general. Whatever problems arise in Afghanistan eventually crop up in Central Asia, unfortunately, and ultimately make their way here to Russia too.
Thus we need to continue this aid and support. Of course, the ministry must continue its missions at home too with as much thoroughness as possible.