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Russian officials introduce bill to allow mandatory evacuations following refusals during escalating floods

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has posted draft legislation that would allow for mandatory evacuations following natural disasters and other emergencies even if a state of emergency has not been officially declared. If approved, the bill is scheduled to take effect in April.

Under the bill, special commissions on the national, regional, or local level would be empowered to order evacuations. Current law only allows for mandatory evacuations if a counterterrorism operation or state of emergency is declared.

Another new piece of legislation proposes introducing fines for companies, organizations, or officials who hide information about an emergency from the public.

Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev had previously told journalists that during summer 2019 floods in the Amur region, local residents refused to evacuate. This complicated emergency response work because first responders were forced to leave equipment in the Amur region that was urgently needed elsewhere. Following that incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the development of new legislation that would expand the government’s emergency evacuation abilities.

The summer of 2019 was marked by flooding and wildfires in many Siberian regions that local experts linked to the climate crisis.