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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: The heat wave we are experiencing has brought tragedy to several of our country’s regions. They are battling with fire. This natural disaster of immense proportions has hit Ryazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir and Voronezh regions, the Republic of Mordovia, and other parts of Russia. Fires are blazing today in 14 of our country’s regions, with vast areas engulfed by flames.
The Emergency Situations Ministry and other state institutions are taking all possible measures to bring the fires under control and, most important of all, save people. I have instructed the Defence Ministry and other law enforcement, security and defence agencies to join in this work. We need to use every means available to fight this disaster. This is a very difficult task. The situation remains very serious. The heat is not lessening at all, and the forecasts are not promising. This means the risk of new fires starting remains very high.
I signed an executive order today declaring a state of emergency in several regions that have been hardest hit by the fires. But a lot depends on us, on how we respond and behave. With the cities sweltering in this stifling heat of course we want to get out and escape into nature. But here, we have to be extremely attentive, extremely careful, because even a single match left burning could spark an irreparable tragedy. This is not an oft-repeated word of warning, but is a very real and serious fact.
Our greatest task now is to help those affected by the fires to return to normal life as soon as possible. The fires have left more than two thousand of our fellow citizens homeless. Among them are many children, many old and sick people. Many families have lost everything they owned in the flames. This is a huge tragedy.
The state authorities are acutely aware of their responsibilities in this situation. I have instructed the Government and the regional authorities to make compensation payments to all who have been affected. These payments have already begun. I spoke yesterday with the heads of the affected regions, and they briefed me on what they are doing and that the money is coming in.
Rebuilding homes is another issue we need to address. This is perhaps the most complicated issue we face, but we must build new homes for everyone who has been left without a roof over their head, and we need to do this before the cold weather sets in. Decisions have already been taken and money has already been allocated for this work. But we need to act fast, and so I am going to reduce the normal amount of time it takes to organise this kind of work. I will choose specific sub-contractors, who will begin their work immediately, without going through the normal tender process. In this particular situation this is a justified decision.
The authorities will fulfil their responsibilities. But all of us, all citizens of this country, must do their part to help in this common tragedy. People are already joining forces to help those who have been left with nothing overnight. This is the way people throughout the world respond. People are coming to each other’s aid, uniting their efforts to fight the fires together and help those who have lost homes and possessions.
Let’s all help those caught up in this misfortune.