Protest erupts in Dagestan after heat wave triggers rolling blackouts. Governor warns ‘such forms of dialogue’ will be ‘stemmed’ in future.
Late on August 9, Makhachkala residents blocked one of the city’s main streets in protest against the authorities’ inaction with regard to power outages in the capital of Dagestan. Some of the protesters said their homes had been without electricity for three days, and no help was coming.
Caucasian Knot reports that locals formed a human chain across Magomed Gadzhiev Street, holding up improvised wooden shields and demanding that the authorities respond to the emergency. The publication points out that four electrical substations in the area had failed in the 24 hours leading up to the picket, while a heat wave covered the region.
According to a TASS update, Dagestan’s energy minister and a group of officials from the Makhachkala Mayor’s Office met with the protesters. The republic’s Governor Sergey Melikov acknowledged, on Telegram, that summer heat puts the region’s power systems to a test every year. “Let’s be honest,” he said, “so far, they’re not passing that test. A run of especially hot days has once again triggered rolling blackouts. Many Dagestani families are left without power.”
The governor doesn’t foresee solving this problem quickly, since it stems, he explains, from 30 years of neglect for the power infrastructure in the region. “Sadly, we cannot expect quick results,” Melikov said, adding that it would take several years to improve the grid.
Dagestan’s governor also had some stern words for those who “break the law by blocking the traffic”: “Such ‘forms of dialogue,’” he wrote, “will only add to our problems, by letting our foes exploit our people’s problems for their own dishonest purposes.” In the future, the official warned, protests will be “stemmed according to the letter of the law.”
Dagestan’s Ministry of Emergencies forecasts that temperatures of up to 43 degrees Celsius (up to 109 F) are expected to persist in some areas through August 10.