Moscow: President Vladimir Putin on Friday
sacked the chief of Russia`s forestry agency, who came under
severe criticism for failures to check wildfires in the
country which left 50 people dead and left hundreds of
thousands of hectares of land ablaze.
Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhoz) chief Alexei
Savinov, who came under scathing criticism due to wildfires
will be replaced by his deputy Viktor Maslyakov as the new
boss of the agency, which by Putin`s decision has been
transferred from the Agriculture Ministry to direct control of
the PMO, government press service said.
Former Rosleskhoz chief was criticised by Putin for
failing to properly utilise huge allocations for forest
Putin also on Friday ordered the government to subsidise
interest rates on loans to farmers who are struggling to cope
with the summer`s drought.
A heat wave unprecedented in 130 years of
record-keeping has triggered thousands of wildfires in Russia.
More than 50 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes
have been destroyed.
The government will allocate 2.6 billion roubles (USD
85 million) for the program this year and a further 7.9
billion roubles (USD 258 million) in 2011, he was quoted as
saying by RIA Novosti.
First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said
additional measures to support the stricken farmers are being
considered. The government will start selling the grain from
the intervention fund when the need arises, he said.
Russia has a long history of using the intervention
fund, which has an estimated 10 million tons of grain, as a
safety net at times of droughts.
A quarter of this year`s harvest has been destroyed by
one of the worst droughts in the country`s history, forcing
the government to ban grain exports until the end of the year
and reducing grain forecasts to as low as 60 million tons - 38
per cent less than last year.
However, Agriculture Minister Elena Skrynnik
ruled out import of food grain.