The meeting participants discussed relief measures for wildfires in the Trans-Baikal Territory and assistance for the fire victims. Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Yevgeny Zinichev and Deputy Finance Minister Leonid Gornin delivered respective reports.
Labour and Social Protection Minister Maxim Topilin reported on measures of social support for war veterans, disabled war veterans and participants in the Great Patriotic War, residents of besieged Leningrad, home front workers, and former minor Nazi prisoners.
Education Minister Olga Vasilyeva and Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev spoke about preparations for the summer health promotion campaign, also with a focus on safety requirements to children's recreation facilities.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev reported on efforts to boost road safety, reduce the number of accidents and traffic fatalities.
Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Konstantin Chuychenko gave the keynote report on reforming monitoring and oversight activities.
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Excerpts from transcript of meeting with Government members
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Recently in Chita, we discussed the situation with wildfires in the Trans-Baikal Territory. I would ask Mr Zinichev to tell us how the work is progressing.
Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev: Mr President, can I first say a few words about the current situation.
Vladimir Putin: Go ahead, please.
Yevgeny Zinichev: There are 12 outbreaks of forest fires in the area; two have been contained; the total area affected is 3,700 hectares. Due to adverse weather conditions, dry weather and strong winds, the threat of wildfires remains. A state of emergency has been declared in the region.
Now regarding our efforts to overcome the consequences of wildfires. The Emergencies Ministry, together with the regional administration, continues to work to assist fire victims. As per your executive order, and based on the estimates of the damage assessment commissions (a total of 13 commissions are currently working), one-time financial assistance payments are being made from the regional budget in connection with the misbalance of living conditions.
The work continues to restore people’s lost documents. To date, all applicants have been issued new identification, 112 people, 53 passports and 59 birth certificates.
Today, the Government of the Russian Federation has issued a resolution on financial assistance to wildfire victims in the amount of up to 50.3 million rubles, including 4.2 million rubles to those who have been injured.
The damage assessment commissions continue their work.
To compensate for damages to citizens and agricultural producers and to restore housing and utilities facilities and social infrastructure, the Emergencies Ministry assists the regional executive bodies in establishing the facts of the damage and in compiling a list of necessary works.
A mechanism for providing housing to those who have lost it has been determined with consideration for their wishes. They are offered the opportunity to either build new housing near their current residence or acquire ready-to-move-in housing of their choice elsewhere. According to our tentative data, 57 families want to build new housing in this area while 62 families are ready to buy in other new buildings.
In cooperation with the Emergencies Ministry and the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Construction has submitted to the Government a package of documents approving the procedure for spending the money allocated for rehabilitation of housing in the amount of up to 450 million rubles.
To improve wildfire prevention, the Emergencies Ministry has drafted a number of major proposals to amend legislative acts.
The operations headquarters on mitigating the consequences of the fires and rendering help to the victims is open around the clock.
This concludes my report.
Vladimir Putin: Do we have anyone from the Finance Ministry?
Mr Gornin, say a few words, please.
Deputy Finance Minister Leonid Gornin: Mr President,
To provide prompt financial assistance, we allocated 3.2 billion rubles to the Trans-Baikal Territory back on April 24. These resources are also used to provide aid to citizens and 447 people have already received it, de facto. On the whole, the work of determining payments to the victims is being done quickly. Today, another 55 million rubles will be transferred from the Government’s Reserve Fund to make up for the costs in the Trans-Baikal Territory.
Vladimir Putin: Now let’s turn to safety. We have one more important issue, notably traffic safety. Last year we registered 17,622 hit-and-run accidents. These traffic accidents killed 818 people and injured 17,946. Legislators have adopted addenda to the regulations. I would like to ask Mr Kolokoltsev to comment on them. Go ahead, please.
Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev: Mr President, in general much has been done in the past few years to improve traffic safety, including the improvement of regulations. Penalties for the most serious violations of traffic rules have been toughened. These include failure to give way to pedestrians and violations of requirements to carrying children. It is now against the law to leave small children in a car. And drivers will be held criminally responsible for repeated drinking and driving.
At the same time, we certainly understand that we need to continue increasing road safety for conscientious road users and disciplining the violators as much as possible. This is especially important as we enter holiday season when traffic increases significantly.
In some cases, even increasing penalties does not produce the desired effect. Some drivers will try to use legal loopholes, as you said, to avoid responsibility. One loophole was eliminated after amendments were adopted.
Previously, when qualifying a violation of the Traffic Rules that entailed serious consequences like a driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) offence, a driver was declared intoxicated only if this was confirmed by a medical check-up, or if the violator refused to undergo it. At the same time, offenders in hit-and-run accidents appeared to be in a privileged position compared to drunk drivers who remained at the scene. So DWI offenders just drove away and were later tracked down or came to the police when it was no longer possible to establish intoxication. This led to a milder sentence. Today, with the new amendments to the Criminal Code, such offenders’ liability has been increased.
Now, leaving the scene is qualified as serious as driving in a state of intoxication. That is, drivers are now more interested in proving they were sober at the time of accident, otherwise the liability would be more severe, as much as for DWI accidents.
But I must say that last year, offending drivers left the scene after 17,500 traffic accidents that entailed casualties. The recent changes are aimed at reducing the number of these cases. They should increase people’s social responsibility, encourage them to stay and help the victims.
As part of the work to strengthen accountability for traffic violations, we are also planning a series of very serious and strict proposals aimed at reducing the number of casualties as a result of traffic accidents. We expect that the steps already taken and the new ones being prepared will help significantly reduce the road traffic death rate.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.
Has it been declining lately, overall?
Vladimir Kolokoltsev: Yes, in recent years we are seeing a reduction in traffic-related death rate, from 19 per 100,000 people to 13, but we have higher targets for enhancing the work in this area: 4 per 100,000.
Vladimir Putin: Keep working at it.
Vladimir Kolokoltsev: Right.