In the context of climatic changes and man-made human impact on nature, the system of protecting the population from the consequences of emergencies is becoming more and more important for every state. For the occupied Crimea, this is an extremely important and at the same time problematic area. The militarization of the Ukrainian peninsula, the barbaric usage and destruction of natural resources, corruption in the main spheres of the national economy – this is not a complete list of relevant factors that increase the risks of emergencies in the Russia-occupied Crimea.

It is worth to remember the uncontrolled development of the Crimean coast, which destroys the coast, and the region’s total failure to comply with sanitary and epidemiological norms and technical standards. Under such conditions, the risks of various types of emergencies that could destroy the infrastructure and ecosystem of the Crimea became a threat to the population of the peninsula. The question arises – are the Russian “authorities” capable of creating an effective system for protecting the population in emergency situations? Associate Professor Viktor Filatov will try to understand the situation by analyzing specific facts.

The first thing that attracts attention is the absurdity of the organizational structure of the Russian “authorities” for emergency situations, which is not at all surprising for the local bureaucracy. Thus, in the occupied Crimea, the “Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Crimea” and the “Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia for the Republic of Crimea” function simultaneously. This is rather strange, since there is a fact of “duplication of powers”, which is generally unacceptable for the systems of state administration of civilized countries. This tends to generate corruption, inefficiency and bureaucracy. It is in such realities that the local population of the peninsula has to survive. Moreover, it is not exactly clear who and what have to do.

The “Main Directorate” is under the control of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of the Consequences of Natural Disasters [1]. In its turn, the “Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Crimea” is subordinated exclusively to the local “authorities” of the occupied peninsula. The functions of these subjects are almost identical: “working with citizens’ appeals, providing individual services, providing psychological assistance, registering tourist groups” [2], and therefore it is not clear why it was so “to complicate the situation”.

Most likely, this scheme exists in order to plunder the “budgetary funds”, allocated to finance the system of “emergency bodies” from both the “republican” and from the federal budgets, and the work is done by the same “rescuers”. At the same time, the occupation “administration” constantly arranges demonstrative punishments for those who save Crimean residents from emergencies.

For example, in July of this year, the Sudak City Court imposed a “fine” of 30 thousands rubles on an employee of the relevant structure, Ayder Ablyakimov, for “failure to report”. According to the Russian FSB, which initiated the said punishment, Ayder Ablyakimov allegedly did not report his correspondence with Umidjon Dadajonov, who allegedly offered him to take part in hostilities in the Middle East. According to Crimean activists, this is a false accusation, since no proper evidence of such correspondence was provided to the “court” [3].

But we will not be surprised if the “rescuer” actually considered the proposal to change the field of activity, because the insanity in the work of the “emergency bodies” in Crimea is off the charts. So, during the floods in Kerch, the “rescuers” simply sailed behind the boat, on which the “head of the republic” Sergey Aksyonov inspected the area. Later, of course, the Russian “administration” began to refute everything and declared that these were “ordinary people who made such a decision for themselves”. It seems that they had nothing common with the “federal rescuers”. Then the propaganda of the invaders declared that they were “republican rescuers” who “find it easier to move along the flooded streets this way” [4].

For any government, this would be a shame, but not for the structures of the aggressor state, for which the logic is powerless. Even the “Crimean rescuers” themselves were extremely outraged by this fact. In particular, survival expert Eduard Khalilov noted that rescuers should protect people’s lives, and not risk their own, accompanying the “leadership of the peninsula” [5].

Probably, guarding Sergey Aksyonov is all that the “Crimean rescuers” can, because in the event of floods, Vladimir Putin allegedly sent military and rescuers from Russia itself to eliminate the consequences of the emergency [6]. Also, Crimean students were involved in the rescue operations, helping the local residents to overcome the consequences of floods [7]. Although even Sergey Aksyonov himself has repeatedly stated that participation in rescue operations is exclusively a matter for specialists with appropriate education, since there are risks to the life of the rescuers themselves.

Along with this, the very system of “emergency authorities” in the occupied Crimea remains extremely ineffective. So, in 2020, when there was an abnormal heat on the peninsula, the local leadership of these “bodies” decided to dismantle fire warning systems from more than a hundred Yalta social infrastructure facilities. The fact is that on the peninsula there is a monopolization of the sphere of fire safety by former and current employees of “emergency situations”, who are covered by the “Crimean department” of the Federal Security Service and the “Crimean prosecutor’s office” [8].

Moreover, most of these objects that are removed from the warning systems are schools, hospitals, kindergartens and train stations. How cynical it is to endanger the life of the local population in order to obtain a monopoly position in the market for the corresponding services. This very clearly reflects the whole essence of the “Russian world”, its meaninglessness and antisociality.

The only area in which the “republican” and “federal” rescuers operate in a coordinated manner on the peninsula is the embezzlement of billions of rubles of “budgetary funds”. They even jointly prepared the “legislative changes”, providing for the introduction of commercial intermediaries into the system, who will be “locally elected” [9]. That is, in fact, the representatives of the “emergency authorities” themselves will elect economic entities, almost without the “competitive procedures and tenders”, as it is practiced in civilized states.

When such proposals were discussed, the local residents of the peninsula themselves stated that the approval of such “amendments to the legislation” would essentially destroy the fire warning system. Indeed, a commercial intermediary will appear in the chain between the facility and the fire department, who will take money for transmitting a signal to the “emergency authorities” [10]. In fact, this will lead to loss of time, and, consequently, to material damage and loss of life.

Note that the process of monopolization has already begun in some Crimean cities. In particular, in Yalta it is coordinated by a certain Aleksandr Tereshchenko, who heads the “department of oversight activities of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency of Russia in the Republic of Crimea”. He is actively revoking licenses for “unnecessary companies” and clears the way for the company “Phaeton-Techno”, whose director Mikhail Matyukhin previously headed the “department of emergency situations” in the city of Alushta. For this, the “official” uses already proven tools – “unscheduled unauthorized checks” [11].

The company “Phaeton-Techno” itself has a very dubious reputation. Her former employees leave very unflattering reviews on social media. For example, they talk about delayed wages and poor quality of work, which is not of interest to the company’s director [12]. Also, the company constantly gets into corruption scandals. So, last year this company seemed to have won the “tender” for the installation of fire-fighting equipment in Yalta, and a “contract” was concluded with it. However, the company did not participate at all in the “competition” itself, as it was evidenced by the “documents of the competition commission”, and the results of the “competition” the next day simply disappeared from the site [13]. So simply “the issues are resolved”, and this is in the conditions of constant complaints from the Crimean residents about the poor-quality work of the company and about the failures of the fire-fighting equipment installed by it.

While this “war” lasts, Crimean inhabitants risk becoming victims of fires. And as it turned out – not only of fires. Last winter, Crimean residents suffered from snowfalls that completely covered the peninsula and paralyzed its vital functions. Even the leader of the occupation “administration” Aksyonov admitted it was a failure for “communal services and rescuers”, since almost all highways were blocked. So, on the highway near Feodosia, a regular bus with passengers who were waiting for the help of the “rescuers” for a very long time, but they themselves could not get to the place, got stuck. Also, throughout the peninsula, there were significant problems with power supply, which took several weeks to eliminate [14].

The local population constantly complains about the work of “rescuers” during snowfalls, and the current year was no exception. For example, tourists stuck on the mountain never received help. In turn, “officials” of the Russian “administration” say that people “themselves must check the weather information and choose the time to travel”. This is a strange argument, especially considering that the direct responsibility of the “rescuers” is precisely the rescue of those caught in an emergency [15]. In fact, this is an indicator that the “rescue services” on the peninsula are almost powerless in the face of emergencies. Another example of the inconsistency of the work of the Crimean “rescuers” was the failure of the operation to rescue three people who were on a floating crane that sank in 2016. Then the “rescuers” did not even manage to establish the location of the crane, and they only determined the approximate area of ​​the disaster and the depth in this section of the sea [16].

This situation has become quite indicative, since it demonstrates two main problems: the inadequate level of material and technical support for the “republican rescuers” and the very nature of the “power system” of the Russian invaders. Indeed, in the event of such situations, states immediately turn to partner countries that have more experience or better technical equipment, and they provide assistance in such operations. But the occupation “administration” does not turn to anyone for help, because the “Russian rescuers”, of course, are “the best in the world”.

At the same time, no personnel decisions were made based on the results of the failed operation. In 2018, from another element – fire, a large area of ​​forest was destroyed in the occupied Crimea. We are talking about a protected area in the Yalta region, where at that time more than 26 hectares of forest with all plants and animals were destroyed, some of which are included in the Red Book [17]. The fire was extinguished for almost two days, which demonstrates the lack of an effective civil protection and emergency notification system on the peninsula. This is despite the fact that the occupation “authorities” are constantly announcing the alleged development of this system. For example, last year it was announced that the construction of a “new fire and rescue station” with a helicopter pad in Yalta was completed, which cost the “budget” 300 million rubles [18]. The question arises, where exactly were these helicopters during the floods and fires in the region.

It is not surprising that when analyzing the state of the protection system for the population of the occupied Crimea in emergencies, a political context appears, which also negatively affects the effectiveness of assistance to the population. The point is that Russia is actively engaging collaborators in managing the emergency response system on the peninsula. For example, Sergei Sadakliev was recently appointed as the “Minister of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Crimea”, who in 2014 held the position of head of the department for organizing civil protection measures at the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine in Crimea. He actively supported the attempted annexation of the peninsula and immediately began working for the aggressor State [19]. Another such appointment, which worried even the propaganda media controlled by the Russians, was the appointment of Vladimir Bodelan, the “deputy head of the Simferopol district administration,” who is on the wanted list at the initiative of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.

The fact is that at the time of the tragedy in Odessa in May 2014, Vladimir Bodelan headed the local department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. He is accused of deliberately delaying the extinguishing of the fire and rescuing people who later died. And now one of the areas of activity that Vladimir Bodelan will now coordinate in Simferopol is the activity of the “republican rescuers” [20]. For the local population, this assignment in itself is a threat, especially in the face of an increase in the number of emergencies.

For us, the logic of this “appointment” is incomprehensible, since in the “House of Trade Unions” in Odessa, most of the pro-Russian activists died. For Ukraine, they are ordinary citizens, which is why Vladimir Bodelan was put on the wanted list, but for Russia they are supposedly victims of the “criminal Kiev regime” (this is how they were positioned in the Russian media). Therefore, it is not clear how such a person, objectively guilty of the death of these people, was “appointed to a position” in the occupied Crimea. Surely Sergey Aksyonov had his own arguments about this “appointment”, but the personality of Vladimir Bodelan has already caused an unequivocal negative reaction.

An analysis of the ineffectiveness of the system of “emergency authorities” in the occupied peninsula would not be complete without highlighting the issue of the massive embezzlement of “budget funds” and property allocated for this purpose. In our opinion, this is one of the key reasons for the poor performance of the “department”. For example, let’s take the case of Alexander Tomashov, who was imprisoned in 2018. He spent 1.7 billion rubles, which were intended for the purchase of amphibious aircraft to rescue the Crimean residents on the water. Instead, he bought, with kickbacks, other and unnecessary fire fighting equipment [21].

We should also recall the story of 2015 when Dmitry Sharenko, an employee of the “Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the Republic of Crimea”, stole and sold to entrepreneurs four electric generators for pumping water. “Total losses” then amounted to more than 23 million rubles [22]. Moreover, for these actions, the “official” received a “suspended sentence”, although such “losses” are classified as “especially large”. So the total corruption of the occupation “administration” again worked not in favor of the local population of the peninsula.

The scale of the embezzlement of funds in the system of “emergency authorities” of the occupied Crimea leads us to an international corruption scandal. The fact is that during 2014-2020, Russian businessman Oleg Belaventsev, a friend of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, managed to steal funds from the Russian budget that were allocated by the International Civil Defense Organization in Switzerland. The unfortunate businessman also acted through the company “Fire Fighting Equipment”, which in 2016 supplied fire trucks to the occupied Crimea (the total amount of contracts amounted to more than 2 billion rubles) [23]. It should be noted that this businessman, closely associated with the Russian special services, is included in the sanctions lists for his participation in the attempted annexation of Crimea.

At the same time ‘Rosenbauer International AG’, a powerful Austrian manufacturer of fire fighting equipment, is a co-owner of the “Special-Tehnic Firefighting” Company. This company has been repeatedly warned in the European Union about the inadmissibility of cooperation with business in the Crimea, but no sanctions have yet been applied to it [24]. So the aggressor State managed to allow the theft of funds, which in fact were financial assistance, and this at a time when both the Crimea and the territory of Russia are constantly suffering from emergencies.

Thus, the situation in the system of “emergency authorities” of the occupied Crimea is extremely threatening. The Russian “administration”, as always, does not want to take responsibility for real challenges in this area, from which the local population suffers, being left alone with the consequences of emergencies. Political isolation and corruption only complicate the situation, destroying all the civilized practices that existed in Crimea until 2014.

The situation that has developed today is a direct consequence of the careless attitude towards the occupied territory, due to the aggressor’s intention to use the peninsula exclusively as a military base. The difficulty lies in the fact that the Crimean residents are almost deprived of the right to complain about the ineffectiveness of the “rescue services”, since the institution of citizens’ appeal by Russian invaders is almost completely leveled. Meanwhile, inhabitants of the peninsula continue to die in fires and floods, and the Russian “authorities” still talk about the mythical “development and modernization of emergency services”.

Sources:

1. https://82.mchs.gov.ru/  

2. https://mchs.rk.gov.ru/ru/index

3. https://www.unn.com.ua/uk/news/1934911-sud-v-okupovanomu-krimu-oshtrafuvav-spivrobtnika-mns-na-30-tisyach-rubliv-za-nedonesennya

4. https://www.interfax.ru/russia/772577

5. https://nsn.fm/regions-of-russia/nenormalno-i-opasno-spasatel-mchs-ne-poveril-v-opravdaniya-glavy-kryma

6. https://www.1tv.ru/news/2021-06-21/408493v_krym_po_porucheniyu_prezidenta_napravleny_gruppirovki_voennyh_i_spasateley_dlya_ustraneniya_posledstviy_navodneniya

7. https://www.gazeta.ru/social/news/2021/06/21/n_16136828.shtml

8. https://pasmi.ru/archive/288846/

9. https://pasmi.ru/archive/271092/

10. https://www.rosbalt.ru/russia/2019 /08/01/1795017.html

11. https://pasmi.ru/contact/?ref=top

12. https://www.vnutri.org/faeton-tehno/

13. https://pikabu.ru/story/yeto_fayetontekhno_a_esli_pozhar_v_dogonku_k_ postu_pro_mchs_yaltyi_7868588 (дата обращения: 26.08.2021).

14. https://ru.krymr.com/a/snegovaya-poruka-poletyat-li-golovy-v-krymskoy-vlasti/31051333.html

15. https://obyektiv.press/node/105860

16. https://kuban24.tv/item/v-krymu-spasateli-ne-smogli-najti-mestopol ozhenie-zatonuvshego-krana-159889

17. https://hromadske.ua/posts/u-zapovidnii-zoni-v-krymu-druhu-dobu-hasiat-lisovu-pozhezhu

18. https://aviation21.ru/v-krymu-postroili-pozharno-spasatelnuyu-stanciyu-s-vertoletnoj-ploshhadkoj/

19. https://rg.ru/2021/02/05/reg-ufo/naznachen-glava-mchs-kryma.html

20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFKcoGYP-aU

21. https://pravo.ru/news/201366/

22. https://ru.krymr.com/a/news/27335532.html

23. https://www.currenttime.tv/a/krym-realii-kompanii-svyazannye-s-drugom-shoygu-belaventsevym-poluchayut-v-krymu-bez-konkursa-kontrakty-na-milliardy-rubley/31404338.html

24. https://ru.krymr.com/a/rosenbauer-pozharnye-avtotsisterny-belaventsev-sanktsii/31227955.html