27 july 2012

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev holds a video conference on the situation in regions affected by abnormally high temperatures

“This is not simply about putting out and preventing fires. This, of course, has to do with the health and safety of people who are still suffering from weather anomalies.”


Dmitry Medvedev: So, let’s get to work. I have gathered all of you here in order to discuss the current situation that has unfortunately shaped up in many regions due to abnormal heat and drought in the South Urals, Siberia and the Far East. We have now established communication with eight Russian regions. The heads of the government; the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief; the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Healthcare; the Ministry of Regional Development; the Federal Forestry Agency; and the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring are all present here. I would like to say right away that this is not simply about putting out and preventing fires. This, of course, has to do with the health and safety of people who are still suffering from weather anomalies. Naturally, I suggest that we also discuss the situation that has shaped up as a result of the drought, and harvest-saving measures. I expect the governors to inform us about specific measures to aid the most vulnerable population categories, including senior citizens and children, to contain fires and to support agricultural producers. In this context, considering the fact that we have been addressing these issues for several years. I want to hear reports on the operation of the property and crop insurance system. These may be less significant issues, yet they can create problems and ultimately affect people’s wellbeing and mood. For instance, I’d like to know about the temperature in hospitals, social security facilities and on public transport. I often read that people can hardly breathe on some parts of the public transport system, especially on the metro and certain other forms of transport.

And lastly, I want to know how the airports are functioning and to what extent their flight schedules are being adhered to? I have just received information that the situation in Tomsk is extremely serious, with the airport working on and off as a result of the forest fires and smoke. I want to hear a report on this issue.

This year the fire season in some regions began two weeks earlier than usual, earlier than the average based on data for several years. The overall area affected by fires is already 20% bigger than it was last year. Of course, this is not uncommon for Russia. And the situation is not as bad as it was, say, in 2010, but it is still very serious. If you recall, following the 2010 forest fires we approved a package of systemic measures, which have on the whole produced the desired result. We have amended the legislation, created special forest fire-fighting services and have almost doubled the number of state inspectors in this area from 8,000 to 15,500. We have also approved tougher administrative and criminal sanctions for breaching fire safety regulations. However, I would like you to tell me if these measures are enough or if there is something else we need to do.

There have already been fires in 11 regions which can be described as emergency situations, where unfortunately people have been injured and some have even died. I am sure that the governors and members of the federal authorities do not need reminding that all necessary assistance must be provided promptly and in accordance with effective regulations.

Of course the hot weather is not the only reason for this. It is also down to the inability to control the situation, take measures quickly, notify people in time and contain the fires. I would like to hear a separate report on the system of forest protection. Do we have enough modern equipment? We have spent a lot of time on this issue recently – I personally looked into it – and allocated funds. How well are the relevant services cooperating at all levels? I also need information on how budget funds that were allocated for preventing and putting out forest fires are being spent. I know that we are only in the middle of summer and we can still do something to improve the situation. According to the information available to me, accumulated debts in this area have reached almost 500 million roubles. I need to know the reasons behind this.

There is one more issue which has almost become a perennial problem and one that we seem incapable of resolving: insurance, insurance to protect agricultural producers and people against freak weather events, such as the forest fires in 2010, the recent flooding in Krymsk and also the fires in several regions this year. I would like to remind you that a new system of crop insurance, under which the government will provide assistance worth 50% of the total insurance premium, is to come into effect this year. One of the tasks of the regional authorities is to make utmost use of incentives to persuade people to insure their housing and property and agricultural producers to insure their crops. I would like to remind you about my instructions regarding mandatory insurance against natural disasters, as it was in Soviet times. I repeat that I am not satisfied with the answer that says this system is out of line with the general approaches to insurance, etc. The costs we incur, I’m not talking about the loss of human life and health, you cannot put a price on those, but even material costs due to the lack of insurance programmes are colossal. The entire world does it this way, rather than signing decrees and resolutions on funding allocations. This is done in absolutely unique situations, and real estate is insured in all other cases.

Let’s listen to specific assessments. Our colleagues in the regions can hear us – Tyva, the Trans-Baikal Territory, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Tomsk Region, the Tyumen Region, the Chelyabinsk Region, Yamal and the Orenburg Region are taking part in the video conference. But first I would like the heads of federal departments to say a few words about the current situation and about possible developments. Alexander Frolov, the Head of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, has the floor.

Alexander Frolov (Head of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring): Thank you. Mr Medvedev, participants in the meeting. In 2012, the spring-summer season in some regions turned out to be rather problematic as a result of hot and dry weather, and this has affected certain economic sectors, primarily agriculture, forestry and the river transport network. Mr Medvedev, the slide that you are holding shows …

Dmitry Medvedev: Are these yours?

Alexander Frolov: They told me it would work on your iPad.

Dmitry Medvedev: On my iPad? I’ll take a look.

Alexander Frolov: You can see a map of fire-prone areas listed by category. This indicates forests in Russian territories and specific areas. This map is a comprehensive indicator of natural hazards and includes data on temperature and precipitation, and on the state of forests in any particular region. I can give it to you, if the map was not downloaded.

Dmitry Medvedev: Well, go ahead…

Alexander Frolov: This map is compiled daily, and here below you can see fire-prone areas until the end of the month. We can see the fifth, emergency category in European Russia and in the Southern Federal District, namely in some parts of Kalmykia …

Dmitry Medvedev: These red ones, which are now…

Alexander Frolov: Yes. The red one is the fifth category. And here is the fourth, high-risk, category.

The Southern Federal District, namely some parts of Kalmykia…

Dmitry Medvedev: The black-and-white version has downloaded. Well-done, whoever downloaded the map. But it's impossible to see where is red and where is green. Please. 

Alexander Frolov: This means the Southern Federal District: certain regions of Kalmykia, the Astrakhan and Rostov regions, and the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories. This trend will continue until the end of the month. There is also the Volga Federal District. This danger will continue to increase, in particular in Bashkortostan and the Orenburg Region. The Urals Federal District, especially Chelyabinsk, the Orenburg Region which have been affected by hot weather for the past few weeks. The situation will improve somewhat because (I have also downloaded several maps on anomalies and the absolute values of temperatures). We are expecting a rise in temperatures in the European part of Russia over the next few days, as there will be blocking anticyclones, similar to those of 2010 according to the weather forecasters. But they won't be quite as severe since we are already in the second half of the summer. Nevertheless, the temperature will rise over the whole of the European part of Russia. We are expecting temperatures of between 28 and 30 in the Moscow area. The hot weather will even reach as far as the northwest. In the Volga Federal District and especially in many regions of the North Caucasus Federal District daytime temperatures could get as high as 38 to 40 degrees, unusually hot weather for this time of year, between 6 to 8 degrees higher than the average in this region. The Urals Federal District: there will be an area of low pressure and rain and the situation will stabilise to a certain extent over the coming five days, but then the hot weather is expected to return. The situation in the Asian part of Russia is very difficult. Some regions of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, to the south, have not seen a drop of rain for over 40 days. The situation there will not change over the next five days. After that in the second week we are expecting a drop in the temperature but there won't be rain everywhere and there will remain pockets of high fire risk in the Evenki Autonomous Area and in the north of the Irkutsk Region. Overall, the Krasnoyarsk Territory will be at high risk. This hot weather has brought with it serious problems for the agriculture industry. The shortage of rain in June and July…

Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to find out on the basis of current forecasts, what will August be like in Siberia, the Asian part.

Alexander Frolov: We expect positive temperature anomalies all over Russia, except Chukotka, this August. There may be considerable anomalies in European Russia, too. Average monthly anomalies are not that high, totaling one or two degrees, but there may be some spells of hot weather. We predict high temperatures for Siberia.

Dmitry Medvedev: And what about rains in Siberia?

Alexander Frolov: As for rains, they will only fall in the Ural Federal District over the next few days. They will also fall in the southernmost part of the Siberian Federal District. There will also be some rains on the Far Eastern coast. Speaking of subsequent possible anomalies, monthly precipitation levels will be almost normal, but we can provide more detailed regional forecasts not more than three to five days in advance.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see.

Alexander Frolov: This lack of precipitation is especially hard on agriculture, and dry hot winds made the drought worse and led to serious consequences for the harvest in the Volga Federal District. An estimate was made of partially and completely lost crops in a number of regions. The number of lost crops in the Saratov Region is 7%, in the Republic of Bashkortostan 15%, in the Orengburg Region almost 30%, 33% in the Volgograd Region and 63% in Kalmykia. The drought got worse in the past ten days and agro-meteorological conditions of crop formation sharply deteriorated in the south of the Urals Federal District and in the southern farming lands of Western Siberia. Estimates have been made of the expected crops of cereals, pulse crops as well as their components: spring wheat, winter wheat, barley, etc. The forecast is between 77 and 80 million tonnes, which as about 7-10 million tonnes less the average harvest in the past five years and around 15-16 million tonnes less than last year. But it is higher than the catastrophic harvests we had in 2010.

Dmitry Medvedev: Are you comparing to 2010?

Alexander Frolov: Yes, this is the forecast…

Dmitry Medvedev: Right, 2010 was really bad…

Alexander Frolov: There are also problems related to low water levels in rivers in the European part of the country, and the situation is even worse in the Asian part. Following the forecast for spring and summer, the major reservoirs of the Volga-Kama cascade were filled to capacity, and they have enough water to satisfy the needs of the population, power generation and transport. But in small rivers such as the Ufa and some rivers of the Kama basin (the Belaya River) the water deficit is fairly significant, amounting to 40-60% of the norm. We have typically had a drought in the area of the Don and the Tsimlyanskoye Reservoir in the past 4 to 5 years. The situation there is much better this year: since in the inflow was 2 to 2.5 times of the average, the situation has become less acute. In the Asian part of the country, waters run shallow primarily in the Ob basin, affecting many of its tributaries. The same situation is observed in Kolyma (the Nadym, the Taz rivers) and in the territories around the Amur. This problem impedes river transport and threatens shipping to the northern territories, which is why measures should be taken to expedite northern deliveries by using small vessels. However, the situation will not get out of control. We expect heavy rains in the Asian part of the country from August 10-15, and the situation will hopefully improve. 

Dmitry Medvedev: So you’re saying the low water level will not greatly affect shipping to northern territories and navigability, because I’ve heard really troubling reports on this issue.

Alexander Frolov: For a number of rivers of the Russian Federation we have exact data on water levels and forecasts, and by using the data we have to coordinate prompt deliveries. This is, let me reiterate, the valley of the Ob with its tributaries, the territories around the Amur and also Kolyma. These are basically the problem areas. 

Dmitry Medvedev: We’ll have to see what happens there, because if the situation gets worse then we will have to expedite northern deliveries, and the governors should be aware of that. OK, thanks, Mr Frolov. You did not sound too happy, the situation is difficult, but at least it is not as grave as in 2010, because that year was extremely difficult for agriculture and for a great many people.

Right, now about forest fires in the worst affect regions. Mr Maslyakov, please go ahead. 

Viktor Maslyakov (Head of the Federal Forestry Agency): Mr Medvedev, colleagues, the 2011 amendments to the legislation made it possible to detail the zone of responsibility as well as procedures for forest fire prevention, detection and extinguishing. And all that legislation is now in effect. We still have to monitor how these powers are executed in the regions. We have designed a number of manuals based on that legislation and sent them to the regions so that they understand the sequence of actions within the framework of the legislation currently in effect. Since the beginning of the forest fire season, there have been 16,240 wildfires totalling an area of 1.321 million hectares. The number of wildfires is comparable to that of 2011, while the area affected is 16% larger. I would like to discuss the situation in the regions as of mid June and July. The situation is really bad in the Urals and Siberia due to fact that [there has been no rain] for 50 to 70 days in a row, which is essentially a class five fire hazard. We compared it to other periods and the data on previous years. Of course, we are dealing with an abnormal situation that has led to the processes currently under way. The situation is very complicated in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, where the fire ravaged 212 thousand hectares. In the Tomsk Region it engulfed 71 thousand hectares, but in that region most of the fires are near cities, leading to a great number of problems. In the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, wildfires affected 60 thousand hectares.

In our opinion, all the heads of the regions of the Russian Federation should adhere to the approved documents that were adopted and related to emergency situations and forestry legislation. Here is one such document – the comprehensive plan for extinguishing forest fires designed by each region. I would like to give an example: the Tomsk Region’s comprehensive plan for extinguishing wildfires (relying on their own means and funds) – 34%, Tyva – 8%, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area – 14%…

Dmitry Medvedev: Eight percent?

Viktor Maslyakov: Yes, eight percent, but the situation there is calmer after the spring peak. The figure for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area is 14%. Of course, we are worried by the position of the regional authorities on the current legislation and the process of managerial decision-making. They are formally declaring a state of emergency, which involves a number of measures. One of the most effective is to deny people access to forests. This measure has produced good results. There are also a number of other measures linked with the work of municipalities and cooperation of all government bodies on the territory of the given region.

We have transferred 45,000 man-days this year. The work was done by our paratroopers from the federal reserves. Last year, they worked 24,000 man-hours during the whole year. In other words, paratroopers… The North West and the central regions have no fires, so we have transferred all manpower and resources to the Far East. We have sent more manpower to Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk and will send aircraft with additional workforce and equipment today…

I think our help will play a role but not a very big one, because these regions are making little use of their own manpower and resources. They are not using even those that they have planned themselves.

I’d like to raise some issues that you have mentioned, Mr Medvedev. One of them is the 490 million roubles in debt. We have studied the problem of insuring forests and the relevant world experience and come to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to guess which regions will be the hardest hit by fires. If the federal budget acts as a guarantor on forests, and they occupy 1.180 billion hectares… We are reviewing the debt for the last few years and it corresponds to what is written in the papers on fires, so it is real. As for these 490 million, the Finance Ministry… This year there has appeared the practice of not paying these debts. But it is very difficult to guess what region will have weather problems, where to send the money. I have a big request for this reason – to preserve the practice of paying debts (usually these are 600-700 million roubles per year).

Dmitry Medvedev: And what does this mean and when is it being done?

Viktor Maslyakov: In practical terms, we introduce amendments to the federal budget every nine and 12 months to reimburse the regions for their expenses. They plan their work in anticipation of these funds. As for the 490 million, this sum was not paid to someone for the work done during last year’s fires.

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Dvorkovich, could you please talk to the Finance Ministry about this sum. They must put things in order.

Arkady Dvorkovich (Deputy Prime Minister): Mr Medvedev, we have already talked about this. I’ll simply finish this conversation.

Dmitry Medvedev: Please, go ahead (addressing Mr Maslyakov).

Viktor Maslyakov: Paratroopers are a very serious subject. We must bring their number in Russia to 5,900. We increase their numbers by about a thousand per year. Their training is a complicated process – they must have certain skills and undergo annual training. They are in the regions. We’d like to ask for your support in increasing their numbers to 5,900 and to provide for their insurance because the current mechanisms do not work.

Dmitry Medvedev: I know. There was a very sad case in Tyva; the republic’s leader told me about it. We must provide for insurance by all means, because they are doing a very risky job, a truly heroic job. We must do this.

Viktor Maslyakov: Regrettably, this year 11 paratroopers were killed in action and one died in hospital. This is the result. But all of them are highly qualified.

Dmitry Medvedev: The strength of the group must be built up.

Viktor Maslyakov: Yes, to 5,900, whereas now we have 3,700. Of course, we have to order them to rush around the country without any rest, and this is very difficult.

I’d like to thank you for the programmes that practically… The regions received five billion roubles worth of equipment last year and established 147 fire-and-chemical stations of the third category. One station serves an area of 500,000 hectares and they have proved their effectiveness.

This year we have received 3.5 billion roubles but a new problem has arisen – it is very difficult to distribute this sum hectare-wise. We planned 150 million for Yakutia (it is clear why), but the Finance Ministry only approved 39 million, because they have their own algorithms based on hectares and some specific criteria. We’d still want them to support the regions that have different types of forests and relevant fire risks, as well as special natural and climatic conditions like Yakutia.

On the whole, the situation in Russia is under control. The endorsed legislative foundation provides for system-wide approaches and solutions and produces results. I’d like to conclude by asking regions to be more aggressive in implementing this legislation, primarily with respect to forest management responsibilities that have been transferred to them.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, thank you. We’ll hear from the regions now. Needless to say, they will have their own view of certain problems.

Now let’s hear about the Emergencies Ministry’s measures on ensuring fire safety in residential areas and critical economic facilities. Mr Puchkov, take the floor please.

Vladimir Puchkov (Emergencies Minister): Mr Medvedev, ladies and gentlemen.In accordance with the decision of the government commission, we have established a force of over 930,000 people and 125,000 pieces of equipment. In addition, we have prepared a package of solutions and fulfilled the instructions of the government by conducting a mass inspection of all municipalities and the majority of critical economic facilities. Mr Medvedev, we have fulfilled practically all instructions this year by 100%. This has allowed us to protect more than 20,000 inhabited localities and more than 5,000 critical facilities – power stations and transport links – against forest fires.

We have planned a number of additional measures considering the situation now taking shape in Siberia, the Far East and the Urals, the unfavourable weather forecast and the consequences of forest fires (people are suffering from smoke inhalation and other complications). First, we have built up our regional group, including the air force. We have also specified the plan of cooperation. All aircraft of the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Federal Security Agency have been fitted out with equipment for fighting forest fires. We have already conducted one operation together with the Defence Ministry in the Orenburg Region.

Second, we have intensified the space monitoring system. Mr Medevedev, having received information on thermo-zones from space, we have introduced a new method of work this year – we inform municipalities directly about the threat of fire and start fighting fires on the same day as they start. Our principle is as follows: the number of emerging fires must be smaller than what we extinguish every day.

Considering the challenges we are facing, it would make sense for the regions to undertake additional measures on the spot. First, those municipalities where there is a real threat to human health and life should timely introduce fire protection measures and take any additional steps that appear necessary. Second, it would be helpful if regional governors send us timely requests on the use of federal aviation for protecting residential areas and critical economic facilities and, in some cases, for localising and extinguishing big forest fires.

I’d also like to draw the attention of the governors to the need to take additional measures for protecting children’s recreation camps and other social facilities that are located outside residential areas, in areas with high risk of fire. Mr Medvedev, through joint efforts we’ll be able to fulfil the tasks that you set before us and the decisions adopted by the government commission. On the whole, the situation is stable and under control. This concludes my report.  

Dmitry Medvedev: Now we’ll listen to what other colleagues have to say, and whether their situation is stable. Do you want to make any remarks? Please, do.

Dmitry Rogozin: Mr Medvedev, following your instruction, yesterday we conducted a teleconference with regions on warning systems for man-made and natural disasters. It was attended by the heads of the Emergencies Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Military-Industrial Commission. Regarding the materials of today’s meeting, I would like to suggest that we add into the draft orders the Voluntary Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation and Navy (DOSAAF) and include troopers and firefighters, and use their forces and facilities, including aircraft and military-technical personnel which can be involved in organising general work supervised by the integrated firefighting centre. 

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, let’s do this. DOSAAF has its own resources and personnel. Actually, there are qualified personnel and professionally trained people. Let’s do this.

Ms Skvortsova, what effect do you think the abnormally hot weather has on people’s health? Particularly, in southern Russia, in its Asian part? What is the overall situation in hospitals, transport and other places?

Veronika Skvortsova (Minister of Healthcare): Thank you, Mr Medvedev. We did our best to consider the tragic events of August 2010, when cardiovascular-related deaths peaked during one month, not only in the regions worst hit by the heat wave but in the whole country. For the past week, we have worked together with the heads of all the regions’ healthcare departments. First, we have established a list of obligatory first aid actions in the event of smoke and fires, and we have introduced it in the regions. We have also drawn up a plan of actions to protect people’s health from the abnormal heat, which includes both work with residents and activities in the primary healthcare sector, particularly those aimed at protecting at-risk groups – pregnant women, children, elderly people, as well as people living alone and people with disabilities. We have granted permission to temporarily place such citizens at medical facilities. Regarding temperature regimes at prevention and treatment facility, which you have mentioned, we will get this under control as well. This morning I held a teleconference with all 83 regions and regional health ministers to speak on further actions. We hope this year we will manage to prevent public health problems. Currently, no fluctuations of standard figures are observed, and we have the situation under control.

The last I would like to mention is that the national emergency medicine service together with the Ministry of Emergencies has commenced work in eight regions. We have provided bed and medication reserves at hospitals, and the situation is constantly being monitored.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, thank you. Mr Puchkov, is there enough equipment in terms of the Ministry of Emergencies? I remember how much funding we allocated, and both you and your predecessor were involved in these activities. Is everything alright concerning the number of land vehicles and aircraft?

Vladimir Puchkov: Overall, we have enough equipment. We have received two additional aircraft, a Be-200ChS, and another six aircraft are on the stocks. Together with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Security Service we have accomplished a set of measures, with 133 aircraft equipped with air spray tanks per government instructions. Crews are ready and all plans for interaction have been prepared.

Dmitry Medvedev: Where are they at the moment? Are they in Siberia?

Vladimir Puchkov: In Siberia as well. We have increased the number of personnel there, and I have sent another ten aircraft there with my colleagues. We have also got all aircraft resources flight-ready in central and southern regions.   

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay, good. Now, regarding the harvest – the floor is given to Igor Manylov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Igor Manylov (Deputy Minister of Agriculture): Mr Medvedev, currently the crop area affected by anomalous weather is 4.4 million hectares or about 6% of the total crop area. Based on our data provided by Russian regions and our territorial organisations, we can also confirm that the Volga, Siberian and Urals federal districts have been hardest hit, with losses much higher than the average. Some regions have declared a state of emergency; and the calculations are made based on total losses. Currently the total registered losses account for some 32-33 billion roubles.   

Since regional heads are taking part in our meeting, I want to say that, in calculating the aid to regions based on these consequences, we mean direct losses, that is, the seeds, the sowing, fuel and lubricants. And these figures need verification and expert review in case of direct financial support. The results of last year unfortunately reveal a tendency to inflate figures; the regions probably are playing it safe in this aspect. We think that the assessments are highly inflated.

The insurance is also a very sensitive issue, Mr Medvedev. As compared with former years, we see that the adopted amendments to the law are already producing some effect – plus 10% today in relation to insuring the crops following the adoption of a new insurance system. But we are concerned over implementing the mechanism of assessing damages and the transfer of insurance compensation to recipients in an insured event. In this regard, we requested, together with the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Service for Financial Markets, that this new mechanism be monitored in such a way as to ensure the maximum effect this year.  

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Manylov, in your view, based on your data, how much did total insured assets increase against last year, for example?

Igor Manylov: Currently plus 10%.

Dmitry Medvedev: Plus 10%?

Igor Manylov: Plus 10%, according to our data.

Dmitry Medvedev: Not much.

Igor Manylov: Not much. And it is important how it will be implemented in case…

Dmitry Medvedev: Naturally, the farmers themselves will supervise implementation of compensation payments in insured events, that is, in case of a bad crop or a drought. 

Igor Manylov: Therefore, this is an important area, and we are ready to work on this jointly with the financial bloc.

As for the current financial support, it is being extended within the established limits. We are also working on additional support to the regions suffering major damage; especially for purchases of fertilisers, seeds and equipment.

The crop forecast mentioned by Mr Frolov is unfortunately closer to our pessimistic forecast. So far we keep the forecast at the level of 80%, but there is reason to assume that we will have to modify it. But even in this case we have not yet reached such a critical point. In principle, even with the pessimistic assessment we are meeting domestic demand and creating the necessary reserves.

Dmitry Medvedev: But we strongly reduce our export potential in this case.

Igor Manylov: But in fact…

Remark: Mr Shport (Khabarovsk governor) thinks we can export too, less than last year, but still a lot…

Dmitry Medvedev: Less, less.

Remark: Normal for us. We think that if we export…

Dmitry Medvedev: Wait, August is not over yet. Go ahead please (to Igor Manylov).

Igor Manylov: The situation is under control in this aspect so far. We have a reserve, we have an intervention fund. But based on the experience of recent years, when it reaches 3 million, we think that we must consider the time and the amount of these measures. Currently this issue requires additional elaboration.

Dmitry Medvedev: We will hear the governors next. They have seen the situation from up close. Naturally, this produces stronger emotions. I expect the Ministry of Agriculture will make some requests of the government. 

Igor Manylov: I support the proposal on insurance, and on the whole we are operating within…

Dmitry Medvedev: …the existing regulations. Good, but keep in contact with all regions. When did you have the last conference call on this?

Igor Manylov: We are holding weekly conference calls and we have created a hotline not only for regional heads but also for agricultural producers and for all participants.

Dmitry Medvedev: The hotline is very important, and we should have qualified employees there. As for the conference call, it needs to be held more often, at least twice a week. Mr Dvorkovich, please take part as a supervising deputy prime minister.

Let’s bring in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation now. I want to speak first with Tomsk because we are getting very alarming information on smoke pollution, the airport isn’t working, people are dissatisfied. Please, Mr Zhvachkin. How are the things going?

Sergei Zhvachkin (Governor of the Tomsk Region): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev and participants of the meeting. Indeed, the weather is very unusual, and we could see it coming. First, we had little snow this winter and there was 50% less rainfall during the spring. Marshes, rivers and taiga dried up. Next, there was an anticyclone hovering over the Tomsk Region in May resulting in 70% less rainfall. In addition, it prevented rain clouds from coming into our area and created temperatures that were up to 5-7 degrees above normal. The last time the Tomsk Region was hit by these three factors at once was in 1921.

Mr Medvedev, here’s yesterday’s satellite map. This is Siberia. The Tomsk Region is marked in red. We are inside a cyclone, and you can see that all the smoke coming from Khanty-Mansiysk, the Krasnoyarsk Territory and northern parts of the Tomsk Region has spun for nearly 45 days in the Tomsk Region and created this kind of weather...

Dmitry Medvedev: That’s tough.

Sergei Zhvachkin: …that everyone before me was talking about. To give you another example, the Tom River levels haven’t been this low in a hundred years. That’s how low it is now. These three factors have never been present at the same time in our area since the early 1900s.

In addition to forest fires and dried up wetlands – normally, rivers would serve as natural fire breaks on the way of forest fires – this drawn-out drought heavily damaged the agro-industrial complex, river navigation and much more.

The forest fires in the Tomsk Region, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area and the anticyclone that is hovering over the Tomsk Region resulted in heavy haze in the region. We take air samples at 23 stations every three hours, and there were days when the concentration of carbon dioxide exceeded the maximum allowable concentration by 2.3 times and suspended particles by 2.5 times.

Unfortunately, weather forecasts aren’t promising, either. No significant changes in the weather are expected, and, most importantly, rain is forecasted only for the third week of August.

Dmitry Medvedev: That’s bad news.

Sergei Zhvachkin: There are 34 fires across an area of ​​8,500 hectares. We have managed to stop the spread of fire in 12 of them. Since the beginning of the fire season, we have extinguished 396 fires on ​​62,000 hectares.

Ninety-one percent of the Tomsk Region is part of the Forest Fund, and over 60% of the aviation area is on fire, meaning that burning areas are impassable for vehicles. Fires are being put out only by specially trained and properly licensed professionals from air bases and forest protection services.

Mr Medvedev, prevention helped us a lot. In April, we allocated 119 million roubles for these purposes. Sixty-two villages are located in forested areas and 226 more are within 100 m of them. We fireproofed them all and today it is certainly much easier for us to protect them against fire.

Dmitry Medvedev: Have you built fire breaks between forests and villages?

Sergei Zhvachkin: Yes, we did. We built wet lines, as I just said, and, of course, they are helping us keep the fire at bay. On June 25, I introduced a state of emergency, and it’s been in place for the second straight month. We have established a regional operational headquarters that I lead and we’ve distributed functions among us. The interagency cooperation works really well. We have 12 aircraft at our disposal: MI-26 and Be-200... It is difficult to fight the haze, because we haven’t been able to get our airborne groups in the air for the past 36 hours, that’s how bad it is.

Dmitry Medvedev: Because of the conditions.

Sergei Zhvachkin: …The haze is very heavy. If we don’t get them up in the air within 24 hours, the fires that we spotted earlier will get bigger just because we can’t have our airborne crews douse them in time…

Dmitry Medvedev: Wait a minute. Can’t we send airplanes from other airports? Because if the airport in Tomsk is not operational, then it should be relocated and it should take off from Kemerovo, from Novosibirsk. Might this be more convenient? 

Remark: From Krasnoyarsk.

Dmitry Medvedev: From Krasnoyarsk.

Sergei Zhvachkin: There are two problems. I have a number of questions that I would like to discuss after this season is over.  You see, we can consider these matters. We actually have Be-200 aircraft staying in Nizhnevartovsk. But the trouble is, first, we cannot scoop water, and second, the locations of the wildfires are closed. This cannot be done blindly because there are towns around. That’s why we considered that question. Moreover, as of today we have several points… Where the situation is particularly hazardous, we have informed the population and we will try to do it in a targeted way, but this would not be possible en masse. If we could get help from science, including military science, which has, as far as we know, some infrared devices and so on – this should also be involved, not today but in the future. 

So far we are unable to use that technology. We have decided, together with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Situations, to bring in additional aviation equipment. Even now 100 Emergencies Ministry staff from the Kemerovo and Novosibirsk regions and 110 people from the 153rd Central Rescue Detachment are working, and the forestry protection agency is also sending 100 more people.  I would like to thank Viktor Maslyakov and Vladimir Puchkov because the problems are being solved in a comprehensible, constructive and timely manner. That’s all I have today, I have no questions. We are working dillgently.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right, I have a question. I am wondering what shall we do with the airport? How should we act?

Sergei Zhvachkin: As of today we have decided that the aircraft should break through. For example, yesterday an Aeroflot airliner landed, a J7 aircraft landed. The others, actually, had to be redirected to Kemerovo and Novosibirsk. We set up bus convoys. We run it like a shuttle, that is, we take those passengers with departing flights, as we sent them to Kemerovo today, and the passengers who landed are brought in here. No other variant seems feasible today. 

Dmitry Medvedev: I see, Mr Zhvachkin, I think now this is probably a possible variant. In any case aviation authorities should monitor the situation, You say some aircraft break through. This should not be done under enhanced risks. There are regulations and rules that set up the lowest limit for aircraft landing, and if the respective limits are not observed, it is dangerous, so please take this under your control together with the federal authorities. As for shuttling, I have just looked at the newswire, there is a report that emergency efforts are being made to send air passengers to Kemerovo, Novosibirsk and other places. This seems to be the only possibility so far, but let us see how things unfold. 

So, is anything needed from the federal authorities? 

Sergei Zhvachkin:  No, thank you. I have a request, though: to collect a special database based on the results of the season, because now there are a lot of observations – what should be done additionally and what should be changed. As of today everything is within the norm, and I want to say that in terms of healthcare there are no more ambulance calls, no increase in cardiovascular diseases. We monitor the situation online. 

In general the situation is under control. An hour ago I looked out of the window – everything is covered in smoke, and a very peculiar picture, I am going to show it to you right now, there is a wedding going on. You see, in the background, you cannot see it very well, this is the building of the Tomsk Region’s administration. And I asked to have this photographed. Life goes on. I want to say that this is our priority. 

Dmitry Medvedev: This is clear. Our people in this respect are…

Remark: Resilient.

Dmitry Medvedev: Quite optimistic. This actually helps in difficult situations, otherwise we would have never explored Siberia or the Far East. 

Nevertheless, the situation, while under control, is not normal. It is abnormal. That’s why all the services should work in a concerted way. Just as you say. If someone needs something, I want you to go to the ministers and heads of other agencies for support directly. As for debriefing and additional technical capacities, we will plan such a meeting, and who will participate in it will be determined later. Thank you.

Let’s bring in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Good afternoon.

Viktor Tomenko (acting Krasnoyarsk Territory governor): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev and colleagues.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon. I have a request, Mr Tomenko. Please don’t report on the equipment that is being used in firefighting and the like. Update us briefly on the situation. Is there anything that you need?

Viktor Tomenko: Mr Medvedev, in brief, the situation is as follows: we have detected 2,041 fires across an area of almost 210,000 hectares. Ninety-two percent of wildfires are located in aviation and space monitoring areas, meaning that we can’t get there by land.

As compared with the same period last year, the area on ​​fire is almost twice as large. The state of emergency throughout the territory was in place from June 26 to July 11. The measures we have taken and temporary improvements in weather helped us reduce the number of fires by 40% and reduce the area on fire by ​​almost four times. However, the number of wildfires in the region has increased dramatically over the past two days due to unfavourable weather conditions. Temperatures above 35 Celsius are unusually high for our area, 5 to 8 degrees above normal. There is no rain. According to forecasts that were confirmed today, this kind of weather will last until at least August 4.

Eighty-five fires are covering an area slightly over 6,000 hectares. According to our analysis, over 80% fires are caused by dry thunderstorms; 15% are being investigated, and about 3% were caused by human activity.

The territorial commission on emergency situations and the territorial government re-introduced the state of emergency on July 26. We have taken an operational decision to allocate an additional 50 million roubles from the regional government reserve fund for wildfire suppression and fire monitoring. The re-introduction of the state of emergency will allow us to double air patrols, especially in forest areas with class four and five fire hazards, limit access to forests, prohibit production activities that use fire in the forests, and carry out a number of activities that will help reduce tensions.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see. Do you have enough equipment?

Viktor Tomenko: We do, Mr Medvedev. We are on top of the situation even though the numbers look bad. We managed to prevent fire spreading to villages and economic facilities.

We asked the Russian Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhoz) led by Mr Maslyakov to dispatch 300 aerial firefighters to the Krasnoyarsk Territory, because we have only 114 of them working now. We have their preliminary agreement for 200 such employees as a result of a conference call this morning. We would like you to support us in getting more specialists from the federal reserve to help us fight fires.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see. Mr Maslyakov, what can you say about this?

Viktor Maslyakov (head of the Federal Forestry Agency): We have 207 firefighters leaving for Krasnoyarsk today. We are also bringing in people from central and northwestern Russia. We are sending 207 employees to Krasnoyarsk and 100 to Tomsk. If they are ready to accept more, we can get another group ready.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right, you will sort it out then.

Now let’s hear from the governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory.

Ravil Geniatulin (Trans-Baikal Territory Governor): Mr Medvedev, colleagues, no wildfires are observed currently in the Trans-Baikal Territory, and no fires have been detected since June 23, fortunately – although this year the fire hazard period started several days earlier than usual, and the spring period was tense, especially April. Let me thank Mr Maslyakov for the immense support he has provided and continues to provide. Due to our joint efforts, the situation has stabilised and there are no problems at present. Mr Medvedev, may I make several proposals?    

Dmitry Medvedev: Sure, please do.

Ravil Geniatulin: The first concerns statistics. Our colleagues from Krasnoyarsk have mentioned disastrous figures, total hectares of land affected by fires. Judging by experience, after a fire has occurred – and here in Siberia we have vast woodlands, with bushes, small sparse shrubbery and so on, and usually an inspection has to be held and a protocol drawn up within five days after the fire to assess the losses – the volume of dead wood turns out to be about ten times less than it seems. I believe that we only frighten both citizens and ecologists by declaring huge losses. In my opinion – and I know that Mr Maslyakov is actively involved in this issue, and we are ready to join these efforts as well – we have to slightly or maybe even considerably correct evaluation methods. I have been involved in wildfire-related activities for 20 years. The areas where fires occur and the actual wood losses are two totally different things. I am ready to get involved in the process and I believe we can put everything in order here.

Second – Mr Medvedev, I absolutely support your proposal for insurance. So far, we have indeed failed to introduce the insurance approach. I remember when Anatoly Zasenko, while chief federal inspector, used to say: “This is a voluntary option, but it has to be implemented on a compulsory basis.” I believe that we will only benefit from this insurance approach. During the spring season, over 20 homes were destroyed by steppe fires in our territory, and these houses are being rebuilt with funding from our local budget. Certainly, we will have everything ready by October 15, and no one will remain homeless – but it requires budget funds. None of those residents had home insurance, and I think that such decisions have to be adopted at the federal level. And another request…   

Dmitry Medvedev: By the way, Mr Geniatulin, let me remind everyone that in Soviet era – although the situation was different and homes were poorer – each resident who owned their as personal property had it insured. They were just subject to compulsory insurance.  

Ravil Geniatulin: True. We had our own house. Each year, an insurance agent arrived and we paid about three roubles for the house, as far as I remember. That’s the way it used to be. And my grandmother held onto the receipt with great care. 

I have another request, a specific one, for Mr Rogozin. Mr Rogozin, could you help us withdraw 105 mobile spray station units from the Russian Far East? These are stations that used to be owned by the Ministry of Defence. In fact, one such unit can be refitted as an all-terrain fire engine at a cost of 200,000 roubles each. We have already refitted some 200 units. We have been addressing this issue, and some 200 cities, towns and villages have such units, which greatly help protect them from bigger potential losses. We are very grateful to the defence minister – he supported us and allocated more equipment. But the transfer of this equipment from the Far East is a big problem because it is too expensive. We have to pay through the nose for it. Mr Medvedev, if a couple of platforms with this equipment were attached to every train that arrived in our place for scrapping procedures, we’d put this equipment on combat duty in a couple of months. Help us resolve this problem, please.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. I will ask all parties to look into this.

Ravil Geniatulin: Thank you. As for the harvest, there is no problem, Mr Medvedev. We are livestock producers rather than grain producers. Of course, we play a minuscule role in the country’s balance. Our main task is to get fodder for winter and we have already got it for half a million cattle and the same number of sheep. The forecasts on the fodder reserves are good. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Geniatulin. Let’s listen to Chelyabinsk.

Mikhail Yurevich (governor of the Chelyabinsk Region): Mr Medvedev, ladies and gentlemen, we had abnormally high temperatures all summer – the temperature in the Chelyabinsk Region was the highest since measurements began. We introduced the emergency fire protection regime on April 17 and until the past week lost 8,000 hectares to fires, but during the past week another 20,000 hectares were burnt down due to dry thunderstorms. We used all resources; all equipment in our region, as well as the Emergencies Ministry’s fire-fighting units, the regional fire-fighting department, and reserves of gas, agricultural and railway companies and eventually contained these fires. The Emergencies Ministry timely sent us aviation – a Be-200 amphibious aircraft, a plane and a helicopter. We evacuated only two pioneer camps and cut the fires off populated localities. Now children are returning to these camps. There are no fires today, but it is not raining either. We have fully removed the threat to towns and villages.

As for agriculture, our position is much worse. Our area for grain crops is 1,730,000 hectares. In 2010 we lost 835,000 hectares; this year we have already written off 477,000 hectares and expect that over the year our losses will exceed 800,000 hectares. We’ve had no rain since May. The drought in the south of the region was particularly bad and seeds did not even sprout at all.

We continue calculating the losses. Our tentative estimate puts them at more than 2.5 billion roubles. We have fulfilled plans for the procurement of fodder by 50% and of haylage by 27%. We think we will have enough fodder for agriculture and especially for the cattle. All in all, we transferred 519 million roubles from the regional budget to support our agro-industrial sector. We’d like to ask you for help from the federal budget, like in 2010, because our regional funds are limited. This year we have a budget deficit of 9.5 billion roubles because of the deteriorating economic situation. We are receiving reimbursements from the budget; the profit tax refund amounted to 3.7 billion roubles and another 6.9 million have been overpaid and we may be told to pay them back anytime.

In addition, we used money from the regional budget to repay loans. Last year we insured 54,000 hectares; the relevant figure for this year is 167,000 hectares or about 10% of our cultivated area. Insurance is not going well because in the past farmers failed to receive insurance in some cases because insurance companies did not pay them anything even for insured crops. Now things are improving and insurance is doing better, but 10% is not much, considering that the cost of insurance in the south of the Chelyabinsk Region is rather high because this is a dry area next to Kazakhstan. That said, more than half of insurance is covered from the federal and regional budgets. This takes care of my report.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Mr Yurevich, are there any other questions you’d like to ask today? Maybe you’d like to increase your fire-fighting force, or are you more or less content with it?

Mikhail Yurevich: Yes, we requested a lump sum of 18 million roubles for fire compensation – but this is just a token sum. I have all the figures on our expenditures here… Our own fire brigade is enough, in principle, and the Emergencies Ministry has dispatched us aircraft in due time, and we have adequate water reservoirs. So we extinguished the fire within just three days on 20,000 hectares.

Remark: Mr Medvedev, the region did this single-handedly.

Dmitry Medvedev: As I understand it, you are in constant touch with towns and villages, fire breaks have been made, and the population is placed on high alert.

Mikhail Yurevich: Yes. We also have joint police and Emergencies Ministry patrols for forest fire detection and prevention, and backfires are made around residential areas. We are managing on our own, and don’t need help, though forest conflagrations spread rapidly and devour vast territories, as they are mostly caused by dry thunderstorms and they start in several spots at once, as in many other regions.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. Thank you for your information. Hold on - let’s have the Orenburg Region now.

Mr Berg, how are things going? What about fires, and what are the prospects for your harvest?

Yury Berg (Orenburg Region governor): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have no problems with fires. The situation is under control. There were 73 wildfires, and we have put them out on our own – we have all the necessary workforce and equipment.

The Emergencies Minister has mentioned a disaster [in the Orenburg Region]. There was a fire in an arsenal in the Buzuluk Pinewood national park, 14 kilometres away from Orenburg. We had to introduce a state of emergency. There was another recent disaster, on a Defence Ministry training ground. We also coped with it, with the help of the Emergencies Ministry.

As for the drought, we had no proper spring this year – summer set in straight after winter, with a heat wave of over 30 degrees Celsius. The heat persists, exceeding 40 degrees. According to forecasts, crops will perish on a million hectares out of a total sown area of four million three thousand hectares.

We have another calamity – an invasion of locusts and corn borer moths, because of which a state of emergency was introduced on June 14. We are fighting back. I can cite all relevant figures – the millions we have spent on pest killers, and the total area treated with them.

We have harvested winter crops, with a moderate yield of 1.1 tonnes a hectare. Summer crop harvest is just beginning, with very poor yields – 0.3-0.7 tonnes a hectare. Farmers receive all routine budget payments. We have earmarked 175 million roubles from the regional budget for emergency relief. Of this, 61 million will be spent to fight pests, and the remaining 114 million on drought relief. I join my colleagues who have asked to convene a special meeting on drought efforts. That’s all I wanted to say.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. We will certainly have special events to discuss the disaster effects on farmers, because the matter is too large for targeted measures. We have to develop national concepts, as the drought and consequent crop failure concerns a major part of regions in European and Asian Russia. Mr Dvorkovich, please draw up proposals with the agriculture minister for comprehensive support of farmers in adverse weather conditions. You should take everything into consideration – the current situation, forecasts, prospects to make or avoid grain interventions, and the general state of the world grain market. You will summarise this for me in your proposals. Thank you.

Let's see what’s going on in the Tyumen Region. Mr Yakushev, please.

Vladimir Yakushev (Tyumen Region governor): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I will start with agriculture. Unprecedented heat has stricken the Tyumen Region as well. However, there was rain across almost the entire region, so we have good harvest prospects if things remain as they are now.

We expect an approximate grain yield of 1.5 million tonnes – enough for domestic consumption, as the region needs 1,050,000 tonnes. There are no problems with livestock feed, either. Things are proceeding normally.

As for potatoes and other vegetables, we also expect a decent yield, judging by the early yield that has been gathered at this point. It is below last year’s harvest but enough for the region’s domestic consumption. We also have a fair amount to sell outside the region.

As for the other weather anomalies, there is a combination of objective and subjective factors. Mr Medvedev, I have one request. In 1992, the Russian government made an agreement with Kazakhstan to settle a controversy concerning the Sergeyevskoye Reservoir on the Ishim River. The Tyumen Region possesses its southern part. They were to supply 10 cubic metres… <...>. According to all our calculations, they currently supply 6 cu m – slightly more than half of the required amount. But then, there are problems with the Ishim now, especially because we have a water pumping station on it for a city with 70,000 residents. It’s a serious problem, really, so I ask the Natural Resources Ministry for support because the matter involves foreign economic relations. We have written a number of letters at our own level but the problem remains unsettled to this day.

As for forest fires, their number has been reduced by 23% despite unprecedented heat, and the burning area has been reduced by almost 40%. At present, we have nine forest fires over an area of 242 hectares. Eight of them are no longer spreading. It’s harder to put down the ninth because it is on border of the Tomsk Region. The Tomsk governor has showed you a map. The Tyumen Region is on its left edge. There is a huge amount of smoke, so aircraft cannot be used there. However, a fairly large air group is based in the area that is not accessible by land – it’s a remote, uninhabited part of taiga. We are ready to increase the number of firefighters by four times thanks to effective management. The group will be reinforced as soon as helicopters can get there. I think we’ll put that fire down. It’s the only one left in the region now, and firefighters believe it is no longer spreading. However, its coordinates have not yet been specified from the air, so it is too early to officially qualify it as localised.

No one in the region has died or has been injured by fire, and there has been no damage to property, because the fires are raging in an uninhabited area. The only fire left now will be extinguished soon, I expect. Mr Medvedev, that’s all I wanted to say. If you have any questions, I am ready to answer them.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Yakushev. Mr Donskoi, do you know the situation with the water level of the Ishim River and the position of our Kazakh colleagues?

Sergei Donskoi (minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection): Mr Medvedev, we are beginning to work with Kazakhstan on this problem, and I will monitor the developments.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. I think you should talk it over with our colleagues. Tell me if you have any doubts or if some matters remain unsettled, and I’ll make a phone call to solve the problem or at least to make some progress on it. Okay? Make a personal report to me later.

Sergei Donskoi: I certainly will.

Dmitry Medvedev: Are there any comments? Would you like to say something, Mr Rogozin?

Dmitry Rogozin: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. I would like to make a remark. The spokesmen of many regions say that aviation cannot work in areas with a heavy concentration of smoke. I think the Military-Industrial Commission and the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences should urgently assess the possibility of using cutting-edge optical and  thermal surveillance equipment for precision fire extinguishing from the air in cases of strong concentration of smoke that impairs vision. I think we can send our experts within a week for an on-site inspection. I also ask to involve the Defence Ministry in the job.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. Mr Dvorkovich, please.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Everything has been said about the current situation. We are preparing for a meeting on agriculture next week. The drought problem is a separate issue on the agenda. All necessary proposals will be made. We are assessing the prospects of grain intervention. We see no problems regarding the overall balance, but there are predicaments in certain regions. That’s the aspect in which we are thinking about intervention.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. We should, however, try to improve the situation around Tomsk. Mr Puchkov, please monitor it, fly to Tomsk or send your subordinates there for a firsthand view.

Vladimir Puchkov: Consider it done.

Dmitry Medvedev: We should do as much as possible to remove the danger, because it prevents the normal functioning of a huge city, and a transport hub is blocked. Things are very tough – perhaps as though as they can possibly be.

As I understand it, the situation is in control. However, I ask all governors and naturally top federal executives not to lose their grip on the situation because it’s still midsummer, and weather forecasts do not appear very hopeful. They may not be as bleak as in 2010 but they still threaten danger in some places. Besides, every human settlement, down to the tiniest village, must be protected.

So I call upon the region governors to pay the utmost attention to notifying the public. Any system can be used, depending on local conditions. Some might be quite primitive – a bell or a gong, say. Fire breaks must be made well ahead of time, as we have learned to do after 2010. People must be on the alert – village meetings and personal briefings are necessary to prevent laxity, which is all too natural. Though everyone was alerted in 2010, we had many tragedies. There were numerous victims. We are having hard times again now, though it’s a bit easier, so no one should relax. Monitor the situation closely please.

Call my colleagues in the Cabinet whenever necessary. We will summarise the situation at relevant meetings and make due amendments in firefighting programmes.

We will have a meeting on agriculture quite soon, as Mr Dvorkovich has said. Most probably I will visit one of the drought- or fire-affected regions for a firsthand view. Please keep on the job. Goodbye.

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