By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin’s cutbacks in spending for various vitally important monitoring and protection services are to blame for the fact that the recent flooding in the Transbaikal and fires elsewhere are both more serious than they would have been before those reductions and the number of victims is now greater as well, Sofiya Sachivko says.
In yet another case when Russians are connecting the dots between Putin’s policies and the misfortunes they are suffering, the Svobodnaya pressa commentator documents how cutbacks in monitoring and response services have allowed natural disasters to be worse than they would be and to claim more victims (svpressa.ru/accidents/article/237368/).
Mikhail Bolgov of the Moscow Institute of Water Problems says that one can’t prevent natural disasters like flood or fires entirely but one can seriously reduce their extent by careful planning and their costs in lives and property with sufficient warning. Unfortunately, even the system that was in place in Soviet times no longer works because of closures and cutbacks.
“In comparison with Soviet times,” the scholar says, “we have lost practically 30 percent of the observer net” as far as water flows are concerned. This network has seen its funding cut and as a result, property is being destroyed and lives are being lost that wouldn’t have been had that network been maintained.
Blaming what is happening on global warming is not justified Bolgov says, and an blaming local officials who in the case of Irkutsk are KPRF members as Moscow television has been doing is even more inappropriate, Sachivko says. The real culprits are in Moscow and in the government who have cut back where they shouldn’t have.