Aid Can’t Reach Siberian Fire Victims Because All Transport ‘Being Used for the Donbass’

April 18, 2015
A family in the rubble of their home after the fires in Khakasiya in April 2015. Photo by Ilya Naimushin.

Staunton, April 13 — In a clearer indication of Moscow’s priorities than Vladimir Putin’s speeches and of Russia’s difficulties at home than Moscow TV, St. Petersburg activists who have collected three tons of humanitarian aid for fire victims in Khakasiya have been told by officials that there are no vehicles available because “everything is going for the Donbass.”

In a note posted on today, Yury Merezhko reports that the Vesna youth organization in the northern capital has on its own collected “about three tons of humanitarian assistance for those suffering from fires in Khakasiya” but there is “no transport” available to get it there.

No one in the group has the funds for moving so much aid 5,000 kilometers and so its members turned to the local office of the emergency situations ministry. They responded, he says, with the following words: “there are no machines. None at all. Everything is going for the Donbass. But we of course will think about what could be done.”

Merezhko says that he fully understands that the situation in the Donbass is not an easy one. “But. First of all,Khakasiya is in fire right now, it is our country, and the Donbass all the same isn’t, however much some may want it to be.” Once again, history is being “repeated: Russia is helping “everyone except its own citizens.”

And there is a second reason for concern, he continues. If the emergency situations ministry is so strapped when it comes to transportation, what might happen in St. Petersburg if something terrible occurred there. Could the authorities respond? Or would then simply blame things on “opposition arsonists” and then do nothing.

“I don’t know what to do,” the activist says. “I have only one thought: to raise a stink in the media to bring this attention to the very top and perhaps at least the leadership of our city will remember than ‘we don’t sacrifice Russians’” – even if that is what appears to be going on in this and many other cases as well.