Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2024

Vladimir Putin faces furious backlash as flood-hit Russians turn anger towards officials | World | News

Russians left homeless following floods have directed their frustration towards President Vladimir Putin and local officials.

Over a hundred individuals sought aid from Putin on Monday after the city or Orsk was struck with the worst flooding ever recorded, expressing their discontent with local authorities whom they accuse of insufficient assistance.

An emergency was declared in the Orenburg region near Kazakhstan, as the Ural River, Europe’s third longest, surged several meters in mere hours last Friday, breaching a dam embankment in the city.

Large portions of Orsk, situated 1,800 km east of Moscow with a population of 230,000, now lie submerged.

Protesters gathered outside the local administration building in Orsk, chanting slogans like “shame on you” and “Putin help,” captured in video footage circulated by local media.

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Many vented their anger at Mayor Vasily Kozupitsa and expressed dissatisfaction with the compensation offered for their destroyed or severely damaged properties. Some also lamented the failure of the dam embankment constructed in 2010 to protect their city.

Orenburg Governor Denis Pasler addressed a group of residents in Orsk, urging unity and cautioning against blame games.

However, regional prosecutors warned against participating in mass gatherings, as it “has not been coordinated with the authorities in accordance with the procedure established by law”.

Following the dam breach in Orsk, Putin dispatched Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov to assess the situation, holding multiple online meetings with governors from affected regions.

However, Kurenkov’s assertion that locals had disregarded evacuation orders sparked further outrage, contradicting reports that the evacuation had commenced on April 5.

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Drone footage from state news agency TASS revealed another section of the dam collapsing on Monday, showing extensive flooding in Orsk with houses submerged up to their roofs.

The crisis has affected more than 10,400 homes across Russia, particularly impacting regions such as the Urals, Siberia, the Volga, and central areas.

As the Ural River continues to rise, posing imminent danger to Orenburg and neighboring areas, emergency measures have been implemented, with predictions indicating water levels surpassing previous records.

The mayor of Orenburg, Sergei Salmin, said the Ural River was expected to break the previous record of 9.46 metres. It is currently 8.93 metres.

“Absolutely everyone who is in the flood zone needs to leave their homes,” Salmin said. “Do not delay the evacuation! The situation will only get worse in the next two days.”

The governor of Kurgan, Vadim Shumkov, said the water levels were likely to be much higher than a previous record reached in 1994. He also declared an emergency.

“To all those who live in all settlements along the floodplain of the Tobol River – evacuate. Do not wait for the arrival of water. It will come at night and unexpectedly, arriving quickly, in the form of a large wave,” Shumkov said.

Despite Russia‘s snow melt being an annual occurrence, it is unclear why the extent of this year’s floods was so severe.

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