Medvedev sacks officers over Russia fire failures

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday sacked a number of key naval officers and ordered disciplinary action against Navy Chief for failing to prevent a major blaze at a base.

Moscow: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
on Wednesday sacked a number of key naval officers and ordered
disciplinary action against Navy Chief for failing to prevent
a major blaze at a base near here as the death toll in the
country`s worst wildfires rose to 48.

Medvedev today rushed back to Moscow from his Black
Sea retreat in Sochi to hold an emergency meeting of the
national Security Council as the authorities were unable to
control wildfires.
In his televised comments, Medvedev ordered
disciplinary action against Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir
Vysotsky for `incompetence` and dismissal of senior officials,
for fire at the Navy`s Air and supply base in the Kolomenskoye
of the Moscow region.

Although the Defence Ministry up to yesterday denied
media reports.

The Prosecutor General`s Office in a statement said:
"The fire destroyed base headquarters, the accountant`s
office, a club, and two garages, 13 hangars with aviation
equipment of various kinds and 17 parking lots with parked

The news web site reported that the blaze
destroyed or damaged 200 aircraft and caused damages of about
USD 670 million.
"A fire that caused grave consequence occurred at a
Defence Ministry facility in the Moscow region. A preliminary
investigation into its cause has been carried out, the probe
will continue, but what has been ascertained shows that the
incident stems from the non-fulfilment of service duties and
criminal negligence, as they were unable to contain the
wildfire that was spreading at a rather slow rate," Medvedev

A visibly agitated Medvedev went on:"It is unknown
where senior officials were at the time."

"Therefore, I`ve made this decision on the Navy
leadership. I have ordered disciplinary action against Navy
Chief Admiral Vysotsky and his deputy Alexander Tatarinov for
incompetence, sacked deputy chief of the logistic support
system Sergeyev, Naval Aviation Chief Kuklev, deputy chief of
naval aviation Col Rasskazov-Manakov, and the chief of base
number 2512.

"I have instructed the Defence Minister to dismiss a
number of other officers for disciplinary violations,"
Medvedev declared and warned: "If something similar happens in
other places, I`ll act likewise without any regret."

He said there was a serious threat to strategic
installations from spreading wildfires.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that
in the last 24 hours more than 300 new wildfires have erupted.

At the Security Council meeting Rosatom chief Sergei
Kiriyenko said the situation in Sarov town the home of Federal
Nuclear Centre is now under control and extra army and
interior troops have been called in to battle the wildfires
threatening the former Soviet nuclear weapons factory.
A heavy smog from the wildfires burning around
Moscow blanketed the capital today. Experts warned that the
concentration of toxic particles had reached dangerous levels.

The smoke was so thick in the area that fire fighting
planes were flying in zero visibility, using data from flight
dispatchers and thermographic cameras to target the fires, the
Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Azerbaijan have sent fire
fighting aircraft and helicopters and Belarus has also made a
similar offer, although Russia has not sought international

Rossiya 24 channel quoting crisis managers said that
for the first time fire-fighting robots were being used to
contain forest fires in Sarov.

The death toll has risen to 48, and the number of
people who had lost their homes to the fires increased to
about 3,500, while 1,900 homes have been gutted by wildfires,
RIA Novosti reported.


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