Russian President Vladimir Putin held an unplanned meeting with members of a civic action group in the city of Kemerovo on Tuesday, pledging that all those responsible for the Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry) shopping mall fire would be punished.
The president told the meeting’s participants, which particularly included family members of the fire victims, that there would be a thorough investigation into the incident and those responsible would be punished, regardless of their status.
“A 100-member investigative group is working here, headed by the Investigative Committee chief. Rest assured, all those responsible will be punished,” Putin said.
Kemerovo residents pointed out that Governor Aman Tuleyev controlled everything in the region and asked if there were plans to sack him.
“It is not right to apportion blame right away. Investigators are working to figure out the truth,” the president said. “No one intends to keep anything secret or cover anyone,” Putin stressed.
“Everyone will be checked one by one, from those who issued licenses to those who were supposed to ensure safety, particularly that private security company whose guard was just sitting there doing nothing and failed to push the button,” Putin said.
“All officials will be checked, starting from those who registered the building and issued a license for turning a factory into an entertainment center. Who granted the permission for using this kind of materials for such purposes? We will not apportion blame right now but investigators will work to the fullest,” the president stressed.
According to Putin, the main issue is that there can be a lot of such buildings across the country.
“We have started to look into it… Who gave the permission for using such materials? They are flammable and cannot be used in places of mass gatherings.
This is clear from the first reports presented by investigators. All those who should be responsible will have to answer,” Putin said. He also said there was no reason to question the official number of fire victims and advised the people not to believe information spread on social media as it was often unverified.