6 august 2012

Dmitry Medvedev on a working visit to the Tomsk Region holds a meeting on the situation in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation suffering from abnormally high temperatures in 2012

The prime minister has instructed the government to "take additional measures to extinguish the fires, to check that fire safety requirements are being met in populated areas located near woods, and to ensure that systems are in place for warning people of emergency situations."


Dmitry Medvedev: Good morning to everyone I haven't already seen today. Greetings! We have gathered here in Tomsk to continue discussions about the wildfires in a number of regions, primarily in Siberia and in the Far East. Tomsk was the epicenter of the Siberian fires, though the situation is much better now than it was a week ago when we held a video conference. Nevertheless this summer we have seen freak weather conditions in terms of droughts and high temperatures, not only in Siberia but also in a number of regions in the Far East, the Urals and some other regions of Russia. After our video conference I looked into the situation in the Volgograd Region. There might be no wildfires there because it’s a different sort of landscape but they are suffering a very severe drought: about 30 to 35 percent of the crops have withered, and in the neighbouring regions, including Kalmuykia, this figure is up to 50 percent. In this sense the situation is very very difficult. 

Currently there are wildfire alerts in operation in both the Krasnoyarsk Territory and in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area (our colleagues from the regions are present here), and in some other territories, and the areas on fire and the number of large new fires, unfortunately, are not going down. There is no need to repeat again that wildfires endanger people’s health, destroy property and ultimately create a certain amount of financial pressure on the budget. In many cities a certain financial strain on the budget. People in many cities have become hostages of this situation, and were unable to fly on their holiday. In general, there are a lot of problems. We understand them all too well, and the government is specially monitoring how the situation is unfolding. I would like to inform you all that as the result of our work, I have instructed the government – and this instruction will come out today – to require additional measures on extinguishing fires, on checking fire safety in communities bordering on forests, and on the operation of the emergencies warning system.

In addition, an instruction has been issued to cover the credit liabilities of the regions concerning fire extinguishing, which has been lingering since last year. Our colleagues approached me with this request, and I issued the relevant instruction. And also, regarding allocating additional funds from the federal budget starting in 2013, on increasing the number of airborne firefighters in the regions, we also spoke about this last time, and it has been done. Besides, a special wildfire mode is to be introduced in forests, parks and gardening communities, and additional measures are to be taken to protect children’s holiday and health facilities and other social institutions in wildfire and smoke areas, and, as we have said, a necessary monitoring plan should be carried out in medical facilities.

We have just seen one of the fire stations. It is in good condition, it’s modern, and yet the situation still remains rather serious. By the way, we visited a crime laboratory that identifies people implicated in starting fires, and this issue is as important as battling fires, because first we need to deal with the problem, but afterwards we have to figure out the causes and who is responsible. And we should be aware that this responsibility, as with any responsibility, should be absolutely personal, with regard both to the current problems and to the situation that had been developing in the past few years.

Prevention is a crucial component. Everybody knows that carelessness often causes fires, but although everyone knows this, people’s behaviour in the woods and other wild natural areas oftentimes remains completely unacceptable. And even those people who are heroically saved by EMERCOM personnel and firefighters are fairly often imprisoned for the felonies they commit. People should be rescued, but we need an understanding of what is going on. I’d like to know who has been made responsible for such violations, whether there are statistics regarding administrative responsibility and how investigations are conducted on those cases.

We have a Federal Programme “Fire Safety for the Period up to 2017”, which is to be discussed at a meeting of the Russian government on August 9. It is important that the programme cover not only the current situation, but also that it determine a set of measures for us to go by in the nearest future in order to prevent wildfires and to deal with their aftermath.  We began dealing with this issue in 2010. I should admit that if we had not had the tragic year of 2010, it would be much more difficult today, because the task force has been significantly reinforced. We have just spoken about this with Mr Puchkov (Vladimir Puchkov, Minister of Civil Defence, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief). We have over one hundred (addressing Puchkov), right?

Vladimir Puchkov: Yes, that's right.

Dmitry Medvedev: …over one hundred aircraft for battling forest fires. This is actually an unprecedented amount: no country in the world has it, nor as vast a territory as ours. That’s why we will have to keep up this task force and even increase it, bringing the total number of aircraft such as the Be-200 to 12 (there are currently six of them are in operation), but in general keeping it operable due to the fact that our country is very vulnerable in this respect, to say nothing about its size.

Let’s move on to the discussion of all the questions. Taking into account that we have a pretty tight schedule, my trip to the Siberian Federal District continues, I would ask everyone to speak succinctly.

Let's hear from our colleagues, then. Mr Puchkov, let's begin with you. Then I will ask you to speak, Mr Maslyakov (addressing Viktor Maslyakov, head of the Federal Forestry Agency). Mr Zhvachkin (Sergei Zhvachkin, Governor of the Tomsk Region) has already briefed me on what is going on, there are also other of our colleagues who have arrived for this meeting. And Ms Skvortsova (Veronika Skvortsova) as a minister will also say a few words about the situation in the health facilities. Please, colleagues, try to be concise.

Vladimir Puchkov: Mr Medvedev, following your instructions, additional measures have been taken to protect residential communities and economic facilities from forest fires. Taking into account the weather forecast until August 20, we expect a difficult situation on the territory of the Siberian, Ural and Far Eastern federal districts. Besides, yesterday, in accordance with your instructions, we checked with the working group on how those measures were implemented in the south of Central Russia (the Moscow, Vladimir and Ryazan regions).

The managing agencies of Central Russia will today switch over to an enhanced operating mode to implement preventive measures related to the dry hot weather, and the Volga region’s agencies will do the same tomorrow. Other additional measures have been taken as well.

First, the government commission and the emergencies commission of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and municipalities have transitioned to an enhanced operating mode in all the regions. Second, currently over 200 thousand people and over 45 thousand units of equipment are protecting residential areas from fires, securing primary fire safety measures and taking part in extinguishing fires. Concerning that large task force that has been set up in  our country, let me remind you that we have a task force of 900,000 people and 125,000 units of equipment, and over 100 aircraft are involved in putting out fires. These are specially equipped Il-76 airplanes, specialised multi-purpose Be-200 aircraft, Mi-26 and Mi-8 helicopters, light aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and the Russian Aviation Forest Protection Agency. We also work in close cooperation with the ground task force, respective municipal and forest fire service units; volunteers and Cossacks are working. This allows us fulfil all the tasks, and as of today there is no danger to residential communities and economic facilities.

Apart from that, a large number of fires (over 50%) are in remote areas, and they are being contained and extinguished exclusively by heavy aircraft and their units of airborne firefighters, because there is no other way to send ground forces there.

Third, the operation of the space monitoring system has been enhanced in the Russian regions. This helps us to conduct live monitoring of the emergence of new thermal points, taking into account dry thunderstorms. Unfortunately, such thermal points appear daily, but the number of fires we put out every day, new fires, the areas affected by fires, areas under heavy smoke, are gradually decreasing.

Besides, we have paid special attention to work with the population, regarding informing them as well,  and also measures have been taken to restrict access to forests and evacuation plans have been updated. By the way, yesterday we evacuated the village of Ilbenge in Yakutia: 288 people, 160 children among them, were moved to a safe area, but owing to the joint efforts of the airborne and ground task force we managed to protect the village.

Also medical supplies, medical monitoring and targeted assistance to the population have been enhanced. This primarily concerns children, the elderly and people requiring constant monitoring. The analysis shows that in general, the state emergency situations warning system ensures the safety of residential communities and economic facilities. When solving problems, the federal structures – the constituent entities of the Russian Federation – work in close cooperation. I would like separately to draw your attention to the effective operation of local governments. This was our weak point in 2010, while now heads of local authorities know their tasks, understand the way all the problems are solved  and basic civil defence measures are being taken.

Dmitry Medvedev: Please, tell me, that vehicle I saw.. What is it called, the one your purchased from the Defence Ministry?

Vladimir Puchkov: Water Dispensing Station. We have taken over two thousand vehicles from long-term storage in the Ministry of Defence, invested an insignificant amount of money (each vehicle required from 200 thousand to 250-280 thousand roubles), transformed them into fire trucks, and through the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and we transfer it through regions, according to an established procedure, to local governments, to firefighting units in rural districts to accomplish tasks in distant localities, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: This is good experience indeed. I have seen the fire engine, the model is not new but it is perfect for small localities and villages because it is a normal truck with a large tank reequipped for firefighting. Already 2,000 trucks?

Vladimir Puchkov: More than that, 2,600.

Dmitry Medvedev: Over two thousand. I think this programme could be continued…

Vladimir Puchkov: Mr Medvedev, jointly with the Ministry of Defence we have signed new documents and will continue this programme with your permission… 

Dmitry Medvedev: … because a village possessing such a fire engine would have somewhat of a guarantee against fire, provided it has a volunteer fire brigade too. Good. Thank you.

Vladimir Puchkov: Mr Medvedev, once a fire engine comes to a village, the local community immediately creates a volunteer fire brigade and a safety group – not only to prevent fires but also to resolve current problems, especially in distant rural districts. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Puchkov. Now, Mr Maslyakov, please go ahead and brief us on the implementation of my recent instructions as well as on the overall situation. Go ahead please.

Viktor Maslyakov (Head of the Federal Forestry Agency): Mr Medvedev, colleagues, after Mr Puchkov, I’ll shorten my report to prevent repeating his points. Since the beginning of the fire season of 2012, we’ve had 17,182 wildfires on a total area of 1.43 million hectares. The number of wildfires is equal to that of 2011. This year’s wildfire area is even up 13% on 2011. As of this morning, August 6, 2012, Russia has 149 active wildfires on a total area of 16,800 hectares. The trend is a reduction in wildfires. The Krasnoyarsk Territory has the highest number of wildfires, 48 ongoing wildfires on an area of 5,619 hectares. We began on July 28 when we travelled on your instruction on the governmental commission, and the Krasnoyarsk Territory had almost 100 wildfires at that tie. The Tomsk Region has 27 ongoing wildfires on an area of 4,800 hectares (the region had 38 wildfires on an area of over 8,000 hectares on July 28). The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has 15 active wildfires on an area of 2,800 hectares, and the Republic of Tyva has six active wildfires on an area of 2,301 hectares.

I’d like to note, Mr Medvedev, that we are experiencing abnormally high temperatures. We have said this, however statistics is a stubborn thing. The Tomsk Region has been in the fifth fire hazard class for 75 days. And there has been no rain at all for 75 days. The Krasnoyarsk Territory has been in the fifth fire hazard class for 84 days; this situation is unprecedented; according to our statistics this period has been 1.8 or 2 times longer than in 2011, and we cannot underestimate this situation.

On your instruction, on July 28 we worked here in Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk, we held a meeting, took decisions and took several flights to see wildfires under the leadership of the Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Vladimir Puchkov.

Following those days, we adopted serious measures producing a positive dynamic, we have instituted states of emergency and have enforced a ban on visiting forests, including by car. Despite the fact that we are now in the season with the greatest growth of wild plants, the population should take a tolerant attitude to this measure. The federal group of fire-fighting airborne forces has been strengthened: currently 792 employees are on assignments. Over 50,000 person-days have been logged fighting wildfires, mostly in the Urals and in Siberia. Russian regions look positively on the decision to increase the airborne service of skilled firefighters by 100 men next year. 

I will not describe the measures we have taken to stabilise the wildfire situation in the Tomsk Region. I’d like to speak about the problems that we have faced during the fire season of 2012. We have seen insufficient efforts to raise public awareness. This work probably needs new forms; and we have seen that the population often doesn’t hear instructions and fails to see the clear measures taken in the fire season when an emergency situation is introduced: the effective measures banning people from visiting forests (I mentioned this), ground patrol including all forces and equipment (municipal forces, federal organisations including the Ministry of the Interior) in order to improve control over the situation; and of course, aerial surveillance. We have a very serious problem in Russia: we have a few remaining An-2 airplanes; they require an opening for a paratrooper to be airdropped with a great quantity of equipment. We have some remaining An-2 airplanes. But unfortunately we have to purchase fuel for them in Finland. We need…    

Dmitry Medvedev: What kind of fuel does an An-2 need?

Viktor Maslyakov: That is special petrol that was produced by Lukoil in the past. Now we have no petrol. Those are old petrol engines.

Dmitry Medvedev: Low-octane petrol? What kind of petrol?

Viktor Maslyakov: Special petrol. I will not risk saying it is low-octane.

Dmitry Medvedev: Check it.

Viktor Maslyakov: Aviation petrol.

Dmitry Medvedev: I think it is low-octane. It is close to kerosene. Please check it.

Viktor Maslyakov: We need a modern Russian airplane for this type of work. This will significantly change the situation. Certainly, building up personnel and equipment to localise and fight wildfires under the standard requirements, including for using water for fighting wildfires… This year we are working for the first time after the introduction of this regulatory act, and the latter requires serious improvement and significant participation of municipalities in this work. When currently we deploy our forces and equipment, we often cannot get some equipment from local municipalities, although it is included in their inventories. This missing equipment happens to be transferred somewhere else, and it is very difficult to find it. Currently we see the need for serious improvement of documents on leasing communications and utilities lines [roads, power lines]. It is necessary to clearly specify: this is communications and utilities lines, this is forest rehabilitation, this is a traditional type of forest use, logging, and in each case it is necessary to specify the leaseholder responsibility for wildfires. 

Overall, Russian regions have made a serious investment primarily in firefighting service maintenance and in protecting forests against wildfires, this year they have invested almost 10 billion roubles. In the past two years, the funding extended by Russian regions has tripled. Last year the federal government also allocated 5 billion roubles for purchasing firefighting equipment and creating interregional firefighting services, this year the federal centre has allocated 3.5 billion roubles to this end – the Russian regions are getting the needed equipment.  

The overall situation in Russia is manageable. We can see very good cooperation between the Emergencies Ministry, the regions and the Federal Forestry Agency. We see understanding, cooperation and concrete results.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good, thank you. At the end, I’ll comment on some points. I must agree with Mr Maslyakov that the work with the population is an absolute priority for every head of a region. Unfortunately, that’s how the human brain works: when something is on fire, everyone realises it is dangerous; after some time passes we no longer feel that it is our concern. I don’t know what it is – a national trait or something else. Seemingly, the wildfires of 2010 might have taught us. This problem requires an adequate response, extensive prevention work and efforts to raise public awareness.  

Regarding regional aviation, this is a common theme, which concerns not only firefighting but the overall situation with regional and local aviation and the absence of an adequate airplane right now, as well as helicopters for local transport. We will discuss this theme in a while. Obviously, an An-2 will not take you far nowadays; however, it is necessary to solve the problem of petrol for those airplanes that are still in operation. These are ancient airplanes, but they still fly and can still serve us before we supply alternative aircraft for our aviation needs. 

Concerning leaseholder responsibility for wildfires. If you think the it’s insufficient or too weak, prepare your proposals. Then we will think about administrative liability, if necessary, and about criminal liability if it is necessary in the current situation.

Good. Ms Skvortsova, go ahead, brief us on your sector. And then I’ll ask our colleagues, regional heads, to say a few words.

Veronika Skvortsova (Minister of Healthcare): Thank you Mr Medvedev. We continue our work as planned both in the regions that have been facing difficult weather conditions, and in all 83 regions of the country. I won’t be listing all the activities here, as we are working in accordance with a comprehensive plan.

I would only like to mention here that we have started to more actively involve medical personnel in our activities, including door-to-door rounds in the areas that have been particularly exposed to smoke and abnormally high temperatures, informing the public through all media outlets, and providing extra medical support to vulnerable social groups (pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses, children and the elderly).

Particular attention is paid to monitoring the temperature in the hospitals. Following our previous conference call, we have purchased additional portable air conditioners for the facilities that needed them. In addition, a team of doctors from the disaster medicine hospital has been deployed in the Tomsk Region. Doctors from this hospital are always on standby for any emergency situations and are called for when there is a need for additional assistance. In general, as of today no increase in morbidity and mortality rates, nor in the number of ambulance calls has been recorded in the regions hit by the heat wave.

We specifically charted the weather conditions in the Tomsk Region. The situation there is calm, stable, and more favourable than last year. Therefore, currently there is no reason for concern. We are ready for any changes in the situation, the territorial centres and disaster medicine units are constantly monitoring the weather conditions, and I can report that we are operating in a routine mode, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: That’s good, Ms Skvortsova. Hopefully, things will continue like this in the future. However, August is traditionally the hottest season in Russia, and even that favourable situation that you have just described can change.

Therefore, I would like to ask you to keep the health-related issues under your personal supervision, and ensure that additional medical teams and equipment are available when necessary and other appropriate steps are taken in all regions. And I also want you to be in constant contact with the leaders of the regions that have been hit by the heat wave.

Veronika Skvortsova: Certainly.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Mr Kuznetsov (Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory), you have the floor. The Krasnoyarsk Territory has been hit the hardest, please tell us briefly about the situation in the region.

Lev Kuznetsov: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. As Mr Maslyakov said, as of this morning there were 48 forest fires (covering an area of 5,619 hectares) in the territory. But I would like to stress that 44 of these fires (covering 5,451 hectares) are in the forest preservation areas, meaning that they are not in the proximity of residential settlements. As indicated by Mr Zhvachkin, currently there are no threats in the districts.

In general, I want to say that this year the temperatures (according to statistics that has already been cited here) in the Krasnoyarsk Territory have been abnormally high, compared with other regions. In five districts (Yeniseysky, Severoeniseysky, Kezhemsky, Motyginsky, Boguchansky) temperatures have exceeded the highest levels in 100 years, and there were no rains for more than two months.

Since the start of wildfire season, we have had 2,194 wildfires, covering a total area of 266,000 hectares. This is twice as much as last year both in terms of the number of fires and the area affected. But in spite of these difficult conditions, we have managed to rapidly detect the fires and ensured that 94% of the wildfires in the territory are detected before they have spread to larger areas, and 70% of them are extinguished within 24 hours.

It should be noted that despite the high number of fires, to date no residential settlements or economy enterprises and facilities have been threatened by the fires, and fortunately, there have been no casualties. Most importantly, the fires have not affected any residential settlements. Due to the situation, a special work regime has been introduced in the territory. We have established a new forest fire centre, combining both ground and air crews. This was done not only because of the current situation, but also as a result of earlier plans to coordinate work on the ground and in the air. We now have 20 air-borne brigades and, in line with the number of communities, 61 forest fire centres. Mr Medvedev, it is right that, guided by the statistics, we are increasing the number of fire-fighting units mainly in those areas where the wildfires are reported because only trained people can work in such difficult conditions.

I also support your view on leaseholders, although I would like to say that the last week has shown that dry thunderstorms are the main cause of the fires, with the human factor playing little if any role, although the statistics about responsibility you mentioned are still rising. I would also like to say that the interior bodies and related services are now performing better. And of course we are engaging in explanatory and all necessary work, but whenever the facts crop up we open cases for administrative offences. Accordingly, we have imposed penalties on 186 offenders and 35 criminal cases have been opened in the Krasnoyarsk Territory since the beginning of this year.

On the whole I would like to express my thanks to the Emergencies Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Federal Forestry Agency, because following the conference call they increased the number of federal airborne fire-fighting crews and provided two Il-76 aircraft. These are now operating in the Yeniseisky district, which is badly affected by wildfires, which cover over 3,000 hectares. But we are hoping that our efforts will improve the overall picture. I want to believe we will achieve an improvement because the weather, too, judging from forecasts, is going to come to our assistance, although after August 10 we again expect (and the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring confirms this) to see a deterioration in the weather.

In addition to what Ms Skvortsova has already said, we are also monitoring human health on a daily basis. There have been no surges in calls from high risk groups: children or heart patients. Depending on the location, we have brought in more medical staff and drugs and set up medical centres to provide early assistance where necessary.

The Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources is also monitoring all aspects of the environment. We do have higher permissible concentrations of carbon monoxide in some places, but general health indicators are normal. Krasnoyarsk is a special concern to us and although the number of wildfires around it is minimal, some smog is still present. In addition to the direct extinguishing of the fires, we are also working with the high-polluting companies by imposing restrictions where necessary and doing everything we can. So in summing up I would like to say, Mr Medvedev, that the situation in the region is under control, despite its complexity. Admittedly the fires cover large areas, but we believe we will reduce them through our combined efforts. There are no direct threats to the population and communities. There is, however, one point I would like to bring up. Mr Maslyakov said the regions have allocated 10 billion roubles. The Krasnoyarsk Territory needs 500 million this year, not to mention the 70 million it needed last year (we are thankful for your directive). Forecasts show that this amount may increase by another 700 million roubles. That means, 700 million is to be provided from the regional budget, in addition to the 160 million allocated by the federal budget. But we continue meeting this shortage by tapping into our reserve provisions. However, we would like to ask for federal aid because the sums involved are too big for our region. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Regarding your last remark, please draft the request and I will see to it that your region gets the necessary assistance.

Lev Kuznetsov: Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Only remember to do it.

Lev Kuznetsov: Thank you. 

Dmitry Medvedev: Good. Now, Ms Komarova, you have the floor (addressing Natalya Komarova, Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Yugra).

Natalya Komarova: Thank you, Mr Medvedev.

Good morning. The number of ongoing wildfires in the autonomous area this morning was five, and they covered an area of 76 hectares, including one that has been contained in an area of 56 hectares. Over the past 10 days we have made good progress in putting them out. Concerning the prevention of forest fires you mentioned, I must say the Interior Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry and the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources are conducting regular spot checks – from 45 to 65 a day – to inspect woods most visited by the population. Since the start of the year there have been 6,603 of them. As you can see, we are compiling statistics. We have identified 628 breaches of fire safety regulations and have imposed administrative penalties on 661 offenders. The fines total 11 million roubles and 113 criminal cases have been opened. But considering that 48% of wildfires are caused by dry thunderstorms and the rest by unidentified or human-related causes, it is clear that these efforts need to be kept up and intensified. But it is not enough to be aware that we are responsible for the wealth of the Russian Federation. So from June 2 we imposed a state of emergency on the area, while for the period from July 31 to August 10 we have introduced restrictions on travel and stays in seven forest districts.

Dmitry Medvedev: Are people observing these restrictions?

Natalya Komarova: I mentioned some breaches already.

Dmitry Medvedev: That was the number of breaches?

Natalya Komarova: Yes.

Dmitry Medvedev: Very telling statistics.

Natalya Komarova: Yes, unfortunately, it’s true. Now we have a poor mushroom harvest. Maybe this will reduce the amount of forest visits, but I suppose we’ll still try to gather mushrooms. For that reason, it is necessary to explain all the dangers of the occupation in the current situation. We should consider measures to support those who earn their living by collecting mushrooms. These are mainly people living in remote settlements where in fact this is the only opportunity to earn a living during the entire year. So we must continue working in this area, as intently as before, and you have clearly highlighted all the key points.

And speaking about the additional measures mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to coordinate the regulations, because they vary between services and agencies which causes delays for us. This would include a unified recording and accounting system.

As for the modernisation of our air equipment, this is an extremely important measure. In our autonomous area we use up to eight An-2 aircraft with parajumpers, up to 12 Mi-8 transport helicopters with parajumpers, five Mi-8 transport helicopters equipped with helibuckets and three Mi-26 transport helicopters with helibuckets. We use a lot of equipment, but our specialists say it will all wear out completely in two or three years. We are ready to pay for improvements in this area, but my opinion is that there must be unified policy. We must be equally equipped, spend less money on different ways to maintain the equipment, including supplies of fuel for various types of equipment, which is important.

The previous comments were correct; in 2012 there were no problems with the federal authorities, and with recruiting people. Currently, there are 50 parajumpers from the Sverdlovsk Region, and we have often applied to the federal reserve, which is crucial. Regarding the deficit, and the drain on the budget for these measures, it’s important that we effectively use our current resources.

As for the inspections you mentioned, our attitude is positive. In fact, I asked the Federal Agency of Forestry for an inspection. Two weeks ago they conducted it. They gave us a number of very useful proposals which we are now studying. From Tuesday of this week, the divisions located in the Urals Federal District are operating in the area. We support this approach as it’s very important to look at yourself through someone else’s eyes. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Ms Komarova. Now I give the floor to the Head of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, Alexander Frolov, who will speak about the current situation. We met with you, Mr Frolov, ten days ago, if I am not mistaken, didn’t we? The floor is yours.

Alexander Frolov (Head of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring): Thank you. Mr Medvedev, On August 5-7, a low pressure zone has been moving over the Siberian Federal District, which will make temperatures drop 5 to 7 degrees and cause local rains up to 12-15mm in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, and the north of the Tomsk Region. Currently the precipitation zone is moving into the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Tonight and tomorrow, there will be light rains there. In the Republic of Tuva, the Irkutsk Region, and the Republic of Buryatia there will be heavy rains, very heavy in some places, and a short increase in the water level in small rivers, up to the unfavourable or dangerous mark, with thunder in some places. During the thunder storm, the wind will increase to 18-20 mps, with gusts to 17 mps. This is a danger too. On the one hand, there is heavy rain, on the other, a strong wind. Later high pressure will be restored, and the temperature will increase again. It will be a bit different from now, for example daily temperatures in the Tomsk Region will be 17-19 degrees C in the north, and 25-27 degrees C in the south, which means that the fire hazard level will drop from extreme to high and partially to average for the next few days, and will later be back to the high level. These changes are expected after August 20, and are mostly connected with seasonal variations, and the coming of autumn. That’s my report.

Dmitry Medvedev: The situation is clear. In general the information is more or less promising, not hugely promising, but promising. Nevertheless, I would like to address all the heads of the regions or their representatives, and say that we should not relax. Even if there will be a short quiet spell with rain, it doesn’t mean that the weather will stay that way for the entire month, as our meteorologists can affirm. So far there are no long-term forecasts for August, as I understand, and actually this would be impossible for a number of reasons. We must be totally prepared and proceed as we have been. It’s good that there are no dramatic problems like those in 2010 when entire population centres were destroyed, causing many fatalities. I’d like to stress again that we must be as focused as possible, or the situation could get out of hand quickly and take a dramatic turn for the worse.

And about various kinds of material support: colleagues, I am asking you to submit all your documents to the government for us to assess them, weigh everything, and we’ll make the final decision.

We discussed the situation in the Tomsk Region with the governor. Why do you think I did not give the floor to Mr Zhvachkin today? We discussed the situation in front of the cameras so that people in the Tomsk Region can see our decisions. Anyway, all the items we discussed with you eight days ago must be implemented. We agreed to hold a meeting with you at the end of the season to sum up the results. For that, all the necessary preparations must be made, which I am now saying to the government. Let’s meet and sum up the current year, which brought some surprises, and I’m not talking about the abnormal situations which a number of regions, especially Siberia, had to face.     

Colleagues, I’m asking you all to resume your duties. If there are any difficulties, please, inform me about them. We will decide how to tackle them. Thanks. 

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