Opposition Pushes South Russia Flooding Investigation

A Just Russia party has demanded that an investigation be held into the deadly flooding in southern Russia’s Krasnodar Territory, and urged the president to fire the territory’s governor, party leader Sergei Mironov said on Tuesday.

Intense flooding in the Black Sea region of southern Russia killed over 172 people after torrential rains began on Friday dropping more than 30 centimeters of water. Many of the dead were elderly people or handicapped.

According to latest data, 48,000 people have been affected by the disaster. About 17,600 people remain without electricity, 28,000 – without gas, and 2,000 do not have tap water, the emergencies ministry said. Over 9,000 people are now tackling the aftermath of the fatal flooding.

“A Just Russia calls for a parliamentary investigation into the circumstances that brought about the disaster, the efficiency of the actions of state bodies and officials must be evaluated,” Mironov said.

The party believes that Krasnodar Territory’s Governor Alexander Tkachov has mishandled the region and is to be blamed for the tragedy.

Krymsk is the city most severely devastated by floods that swept the region. Due to its geographic position, Krymsk and the nearby residential areas are regularly hit by floods; the local emergencies and engineering services should have introduced measures protecting the region from such disasters long ago, A Just Russia said.

Russia’s opposition has also hit out at authorities over their handling of deadly floods in the Black Sea region at the weekend. “This is a direct consequence of the thieving policies carried out by the swindlers and thieves in recent years,” anti-government protest leader Sergei Udaltsov told supporters in Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg on Sunday evening, referring to the opposition nickname for the ruling United Russia party.

President Vladimir Putin – who faced criticism over his handling of disasters in the 2000s – flew over the devastated region on Saturday, in footage aired on state-run television. The flooding is the first major catastrophe to strike Russia since Putin returned to the presidency in May.

“Mistakes were made by local authorities and certain departments,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told a meeting on the floods. “Not all the population was warned in time.”

His comments were immediately contradicted by the head of the emergencies services in Krymsk. Denis Pronin told RIA Novosti that residents were warned via sirens, mobile phone text messages and police. “We did all we could,” he said.

He was echoed by officials at the Federal Meteorological Service, who said on Monday that they warned local emergency services about possible flooding some five hours before the disaster struck.
But local residents said no warning was given.

“One of the causes of the catastrophe was the lack of a warning system,” Krymsk resident Boris Khovstikov told RIA Novosti. “The civil defense and warning system failed to function.”

Puchkov also dismissed rumors that water from a local reservoir had contributed to the flooding. Russia’s Investigation Committee has said water overflowed from the reservoir, but did not contribute to the disaster.

The committee also said on Monday that disaster warning systems were not functioning properly, but said an investigation was in progress.

The regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry issued five storm warnings since July 5, including by text messages, branch head Alexander Kazilikin told RIA Novosti. Kommersant reported on Monday that many local residents never got the messages or received them in truncated form.


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