Russians in flooded regions complain of slow compensation


  • World
  • Monday, 22 Apr 2024

FILE PHOTO: A drone view shows a residential area divided from the flood waters by an earthen wall built by residents, in the settlement of Perovsky in Orenburg region, Russia, in this picture obtained by Reuters on April 17, 2024. RESIDENTS OF PEROVSKY/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Russians living in flood-hit areas have taken to social media to complain that local officials are doing too little to compensate them for lost property nearly three weeks after many fled their homes.

Russia's Urals region and northern Kazakhstan are suffering the worst flooding in living memory, as fast-melting snow and heavy rain have swollen several large rivers in Europe and Asia.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated after rivers broke through dams and flooded cities, while oil refineries and natural gas wells in Russia are experiencing disruptions.

As the floodwaters reached the Orenburg region in early April, governor Denis Pasler doubled one-time payments to flood victims to between 20,000 to 100,000 roubles ($200 to $1,000) per person, state media reported. He said last week that some 30,000 people had received compensation, and another 30,000 would soon get payments, TASS news agency reported.

With their homes either destroyed or severely damaged, however, many local residents say the compensation is far too little.

Some complain they still have not received payments, weeks after floodwaters left them homeless.

In one video circulating widely, а woman who said she was the widow of a Russian soldier killed in Ukraine shouted profanities at the mayor of Orsk - one of the flooded cities - when he visited her village.

"What did my husband die for? For covering your a** here?," the unidentified woman shouted at Vasily Kozupitsa, the mayor. "Have a conscience! You're in a white shirt, and we've been walking around for two weeks without money, without anything."

NO ASSISTANCE

On the social media site VKontakte, many people applauded the woman and joined her in blaming the mayor for the delays, saying they too had yet to receive assistance.

Kozupitsa was accused by critics of being out of touch after media reported this month that his son lives and works in Dubai.

In an official video message last week, he said life is "not honey" in Dubai where the climate is "very hot and very difficult".

Orsk locals said authorities were doing a good job to provide clean water and assess damage, but that the compensation on offer was insufficient.

A woman who gave her name as Yekaterina said she would need significantly more than the 80,000 roubles ($850) her family of four was due to receive to replace their damaged wooden floor, but that she was more worried by the state of the city's dams.

"I've never heard of the dam being repaired," the 38-year-old told Reuters in a message. "We have to take into account that the climate is warming and there may be even more water (in future)".

In Orenburg, the regional administrative capital some 150 miles (250 km) west of Orsk, locals said they were struggling to receive payments after catastrophic flooding.

Teya, a housewife from the village of Dvoryanskiy, said on Monday she has waited nearly two weeks for her 20,000-rouble payment.

The 29-year-old, who asked for her surname not to be shared, fled her home two weeks ago with her husband and children, aged four and seven, after floodwaters rose over 50cm (1.60 ft). They are now staying with relatives.

The couple bought their home for 4.75 million roubles ($51,000) in January and had just begun paying their mortgage.

"It's terrible," she told Reuters in a message. "We don't know what to expect."

($1 = 93.2500 roubles)

(Reporting and writing by Lucy Papachristou, editing by Ed Osmond)

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