President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Shoigu, there was a tragic event at the end of last year in Perm: a fire in a nightclub that claimed many lives. I gave a series of instructions to the Government, to you as minister, and to several other inspection and supervising bodies to look into the causes of the tragedy and to come up with suggestions to ensure that accidents of this kind and with so many casualties do not happen in the future.
I would like you to brief me on what has been done on a concrete, practical level, including at the facilities supervised and regulated by fire inspection, and what decisions were made in respect of such facilities, what should be done next.
Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, we are in the process of conducting some fairly major work with regard to these facilities, as well as heavily-trafficked facilities, the ones working almost around the clock, including at night time.
I will begin by saying that we have registered 17,750 such facilities around the nation. We have conducted inspections at every single one of them, carrying out a total of 18,800 inspections, since for some of the facilities we did more than one check. Furthermore, in some cases, even when certain facilities were subject to court rulings, the bailiffs had to intensify their work, because the facilities went against orders and opened their doors again.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other words, they reopened in spite of the fire inspection decision and resumed operations?
Sergei Shoigu: That’s right. Moreover, the bailiffs were forced to return to the facilities in a matter of hours, not days. They would come back after four or five hours to find the facilities operating again.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s criminal. They need to be brought to justice.
Sergei Shoigu: That is precisely how we responded to these situations. Over four thousand businesses and over eight thousand individuals are now subject to administrative proceedings. We have revealed more than 116 thousand infractions. We have already taken care of many of them – probably about half – and these violations are now being eliminated. Following your instructions, we conducted all of this work jointly with the Prosecutor General’s Office, with a large number of cases taken to court. Today, the judges have made rulings to halt operations at 2,729 facilities.
(Next, the Minister briefed the President on efforts to improve the work of the state fire inspectors, the Ministry’s suggestions on changes to the law on fines and penalties, and work on a draft law to create voluntary fire-fighting brigades, as per the President’s instructions.)
We have also prepared a draft law (which can be found on our website and has been distributed to the regions) on mandatory fire insurance of this sort of facilities.
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, that is important.
Sergei Shoigu: We will be asking for your support so that this future law really does work the way we want it to. The most important thing for us is to introduce an effective and sound mechanism not from the part of the state supervision, but truly a market-based mechanism for regulating safety issues, minimising risks, and protecting our citizens, because that is the way things are throughout the world.
Dmitry Medvedev: Through self-regulation on such matters.
Sergei Shoigu: Yes.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to say two more things. First of all, we need a fire inspection system that is extremely diligent and thorough when dealing with problems of this kind. It must make clear, responsible decisions, regardless of who is standing behind those facilities – whether it’s regional authorities, influential local businessmen, or anyone else.
Second, there are some facilities that house entertainment venues or something of that sort, which are not structurally fit for such purposes. Sure, it’s a pity when a lot of money has been invested into those venues, but I feel that in these cases, a decision must be made to shut them down. Because if we are talking about a place where many people gather and which can’t be organised in such a way as to comply with applicable regulations, then a responsible decision must be made. We cannot threaten the safety of people and risk their lives, even if economic factors incline us to do so.