Flooded Russians Call Out Putin in Rare Protest

Regional government offers about $100 a month to evacuees
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2024 4:45 PM CDT
Russians Hold Rare Protest After Dam Breaks
Water floods the highway between the upper and lower parts of the city after a part of a dam burst, in Orsk, Russia on Monday.   (AP Photo)

Russians in the city of Orsk gathered in a rare protest Monday, calling for compensation following the collapse of a dam and subsequent flooding in the Orenburg region near the border with Kazakhstan. Protests are an unusual sight in Russia, the AP reports, where authorities have consistently cracked down on any form of dissent following President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of people gathered at the administrative building in Orsk on Monday, Russian state news agency Tass said, while videos shared on Russian social media channels showed people chanting "Putin, help us" and "shame."

The floods, caused by rising water levels in the Ural River, forced over 4,000 people, including 885 children, to evacuate in the region, its government said Sunday. Tass said Monday that around 10,000 homes, including some 7,000 in Orsk, were flooded and that floodwaters in the city are continuing to rise. Footage from Orsk and Orenburg showed water partially submerging buildings, including homes, as well as nearby fields. Russia's government declared the situation in flood-hit areas of Orenburg a federal emergency on Sunday, with preparations for possible flooding underway in three other regions, state media reported. A criminal probe has been launched to investigate suspected construction violations that may have caused the dam to break.

Following the protest, Tass reported that the governor of the Orenburg region, Denis Pasler, promised compensation of approximately $108 for six months to people forced out of their homes. The total damage from the flood is estimated at about $227 million, the regional government said Sunday, per the AP. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin had spoken with the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, as well as the heads of the Kurgan and Tyumen regions, located in the Ural Mountains area, to discuss "the need ... for early adoption of measures to assist people and their possible evacuation."

(More Russia protests stories.)

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