16:34, December 12, 2019

Colonel General Evgeniy Zinichev: When 11-month-old Vanya Fokin was found under the rubble, the President called me and said: "You said there were no survivors"

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- ...Yes! I'm listening! How? Are there any dead? Check and report on measures taken.

We can say this is an epigraph to our interview. Evgeniy Zinichev on the hot phone (and all phones are hot in his office - in the office on Vatutin Street) received the report of the duty officer.

But at the same time, perhaps, "Komsomolka" journalists were set up to ask the questions the Head of the Ministry of Emergencies in "emergency mode".

Although we tried with the photojournalist Vladimir Velengurin (Yevgeny Nikolaevich handed him the Honorary Badge of the Ministry of Emergencies "For zeal" right in his office), but it didn’t work out for us. However, everything in order ...

 "The system works like a diesel engine in the Arctic"

 - Comrade Colonel General! You have been in this post for a year and a half. Is it really impossible to get used to such disturbing calls?

 - Alexander, what are you talking about now?

 "We just noticed your look ... So decisive." And even harsh.

 - When the duty officer calls, I immediately ask - are there no dead? Human life is the main thing! And then I listen to the whole report. And tension is always.

 - Day and night?

 - No difference. If we talk about events that can cause resonance, which require quick decisions. For example, it can be necessary to increase the group of rescuers, transfer equipment.

 - And if the situation is not so emergency?

 - Anyway - I will never interrupt the report of the duty officer. The list of messages is clearly regulated, so his call is always a message about a tense situation or an emergency.

I’ve served all my life and I know that sometimes it’s not even a report, but actions when the officer looks at the chief and makes decisions not by himself, but "as they order". It is not right. The boss should not interfere subordinates with the performance of their official duties.

 - Evgeny Nikolaevich, when one and a half years ago, President Vladimir Putin decided to appoint you to the post of Head of the Ministry of Emergencies, how did you react to this? Just please don’t say "It was a high trust for me".

 - The existing emergency response system is well structured and operational, as our actions in the conditions of natural and man-made accidents of recent years have confirmed.

 - May I quote the former Head of the Ministry of Emergencies, Hero of Russia Sergey Shoigu: "The system works like a diesel engine in the Arctic."

 - I agree. And the head of the department is a person-function. Does this answer suit you?

 - Not really ...

 - And, also a fresh look, of course, is present. I am a person with a different work experience. I look at problems from different points of view.

 - How long did you get used to the new "command post"?

 - Literally a month and a half. Then I said to myself: that’s it, stop. There is no more time for rebuilding and readjustment. Now, even if something does not suit, it’s too late to change something, you need to work with the available resources. Now it is my responsibility, who and how works.

And our main strategic goal is to protect the population and territories. There are functions: prevention, rescue, help ...

 "The worst thing is the explosion in Magnitogorsk"

- Evgeny Nikolaevich, during these one and a half year when you are the Head the Ministry of Emergencies, have there been many difficult situations?

 - I have already have something to remember. The worst case is Magnitogorsk.


 A household gas explosion in a residential building in Magnitogorsk occurred on December 31, 2018. As a result, entrance No. 7 of a ten-story residential building No. 164 on Karl Marx Avenue partially collapsed. 39 people died. On January 1, rescuers found a 11-month-old child alive under the rubble. The boy laid under the blockage for 35 hours at a temperature -30°C.

 - Did you expect to find any survivors when you were clearing the rubble?

 - Of course, I always want to believe in the best, but there was little hope. And when a baby was found alive... Before that, I reported to President Vladimir Putin: "Frost is -30°C, everything is covered up. Most likely, there are no survivors. " And the fact that we found Vanya is just a miracle.

 - And how did the president react to the message?

 - The President was extremely self-collected these days, and he received the message about Van with relief and said: "But there are still living people." I answered him: a miracle!

- Do you follow the fate of Vanya?

- Whole Department is following. Our colleagues visit him, those who participated directly, who heard the crying of a child, who took it out and picked it up.

I'm not the only one who sees this as a miracle. Speaking about the tragedy in Magnitogorsk, I would like to focus on one point. On the wall of the house that had collapsed after the explosion, ragged scraps of wallpaper hung. And one of the volunteers who helped us on the site turned out to be a priest. He drew attention to the surviving icon hanging on the damaged wall almost over the place where the child was found. It was the icon of the Mother of God "Seven-Shot", as is commonly believed among the people, protecting from "all evil", "granting grace" and "softening hearts".

This icon was transferred to the Cathedral of the Ascension of Christ, in Magnitogorsk.

- Are you scared in such situations? Joseph Kobzon went to the Nord-Ost four times. He once told me that he was always scared.

 - I am not directly involved in this horror. Let's not compare these types of fear. It's one thing to go to a theater with terrorists when you can die at any moment. It's another thing to lead a rescue operation. There is a fear of making difficult decisions, due to time constraints, but this is not comparable to the sense of risk when working with rescuers in extreme conditions.

 "Such floods were not expected in Tulun"

 - And as we understand, the prevention of emergency situations is the main thing for you.

 - Yes.

If we talk about natural elements, then in the first place is the forecast of Roshydromet. It collects information on natural phenomena and is charged with the obligation to inform the Ministry of Emergencies and regional authorities in advance about possible natural disasters, and we are already analyzing it.

 For example, Roshydromet informs us of a strong wind on the Black Sea coast. And we understand that, for example, in case of such wind, power transmission towers may suffer. Or bridges. Or railroad tracks. Based on these forecasts, we are building our own models for the development of the situation with the subsequent reporting to the relevant ministries and departments, and we inform local authorities through our territorial divisions. We inform, for example, Russian Railways: plan the redirection of your trains.

 - Do not you think that the forecasts of Roshydromet are not always accurate? Was the flood in Tulun of the Irkutsk Region predicted?

 - The speed and scale of the flood was unexpected. You see, Roshydromet, although it has an extensive network of hydraulic stations, but their number is insignificant, and the material base is quite worn out. This has an impact.

The first forecast data were quite superficial; we initially assumed that water could rise in rivers due to overmoistening of the soil, due to precipitation. But there was an error in predicting the amount of precipitation, which differed from the expected 3 times.

We must understand that there are dams that are designed for a certain rise in water. The dam, built in Tulun, was originally designed for a greater rise in water than it was during previous floods. Therefore, the forecasts at first did not cause concern. When we realized that the situation was more serious, airmobile groups were sent to the disaster area. Forces were being transferred, including from Tula, from Krasnoyarsk.

At the time when tragic events had already occurred, forces and weapons were there. I was worried about how the public was alerted. I was in Tulun and asked residents: were you warned? They answered me: no one warned us. But in the course of many conversations with local residents, it became clear that there was a warning. People simply could not believe that there was such a scale of disaster. The last time water rose so significantly in the 80s. That is why the dam was built with a significant margin.

At first, people simply watched what was happening. Everyone expected that the dam would stand, the water would leave. But this time there was much more water. The Total number of people died was 26, of which mostly adult men were.

 "We are not friends with psychics and fortune-tellers"

 - Have you found any patterns in this new work?

 - I made a discovery for myself by studying the statistics of fires.

The greatest number of them takes place on Sundays. Most people die on Tuesdays, and least on Wednesdays. We are developing our IT technologies. There is a desire to download all this into a computer and analyze it more thoroughly. Maybe the machine will do some calculations.

 - Do you attract psychics, fortune-tellers?

 - No, we don’t. People who risk their lives have some kind of superstition. But this is a completely different thing: in a critical situation, struggling with circumstances, you cling to everything when you have no other clue.

As for me, I have no prejudices and superstitions. But when it comes to other people ...

 ... Magnitogorsk, late evening. Someone from the local administration comes and says that there is a psychic in the city who predicts victories for sports teams. According to the psychic, at 23 o’clock the wall of the building may collapse. Not believing in this, without three minutes to eleven I give the command to leave the site. Well, just in case. For peace of mind rescuers. And people for several minutes left the search area, stood, and then went on to work on.

 - Don't you take photos before take-off?

 - Not. But it’s not because I'm afraid.

 - What helps you more in your work?

 - I have served all my life. I understand how a similar system works. The structure of the Ministry of Emergencies was competently built up to me by Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu. There are connections within, there is a hierarchy of the system. I am her element, like everyone else, but with my functional task. If the system is stable, it does not really matter who will be the minister.

 "Well, you, Comrade Colonel General, - right now belittle your significance!"

 - May be...

 - ... I was a correspondent in Transbaikal. We went through a lot of emergencies there, including devastating flood. Now all this is repeated as some kind of deja vu.

 - Unfortunately, we are not yet in a position to manage either floods or destructive winds.

 But the ability to avoid catastrophic consequences and minimize losses depends on people.

 In Ingushetia, for many years in a row, they struggled with the consequences of a river spill. Water washed away the roads, something ruined. From year to year they spent money on liquidation of consequences and payment of compensations. But Yunus-Bek Yevkurov (until recently the hРad of Ingushetia, now the Deputy Minister of Defenсe of Russia.- A.G.) decided the question - they built a dam. And that’s all, the problem has been fixed. I set the task for economists to calculate the effect of such preventive measures. So, - the ruble invested in the warning brings 12 rubles of economic effect.

 The same Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur did not "drown" during the Amur flood just because the authorities together with the Ministry of Emergency Situations worked out a warning: they strengthened the old dams somewhere and built new ones somewhere.

 In addition, we learned a lesson from the events in Tulun and this time we used data and forecasts not only from Roshydromet. And they also turned to the information of the international hydrometeorological services.

 Two weeks before the start of the massive flood, the forecast for the Amur basin was already disappointing. It was decided to take bulk dams from the Federal Reserve, to strengthen the groupings of our forces. All governors set up for serious work. The leaders of the Khabarovsk Territory and the Amur Region fulfilled the task - as it should. And disaster was avoided in this region.

 - And there are man-made disasters ...

 - Yes. And here more depends on the person.

 Last year, in the Far East, 30 kilometers of power line poles tumbled in the wind. And the wind was insignificant for the Far East - 15 m/s. And the pillars collapsed. It turned out that there are still wooden poles from the 60s. So they will sprinkle at any gust of wind. If we initially had information about the dilapidated state of the system, got this information on time, put it in an "unfavorable model," we would urgently need to strengthen the supports.

 " People are drinking less. But still a lot. "

 - According to your data, the number of fires in the country has increased significantly ...

 - Let’s by analogy: until the patient is given an accurate diagnosis, it is impossible to treat him correctly. For us, statistics are like a medical diagnosis.

 When we know the objective picture, then we can predict where we have failures, where we need to strengthen the work. Therefore, we made an adjustment to the incident accounting system.

 Until January 1, 2019, concepts such as "fires" and "ignition" were separated. The "ignition" was considered the case when there was supposedly no damage. For example, the barn burned down, the owner was not found, no one wrote a statement on compensation for material damage. But in fact, fire fighting equipment was advanced, fuel was used, firefighters worked. These are costs, and, therefore, the damage exists. And environmental damage is present. Therefore, we removed the concept of "fire." Now all cases are сonsidered as fires. Of course, the statistics of the number of fires increased significantly, almost four times.

 "We have changed the fire victims counting system. Previously, a person who was injured or burned was considered alive if he was brought alive to the ambulance, even if he could die in a minute. Now, a person who died within 30 days after the accident as a result of injuries is considered dead in a fire. On November 12 last year, 7.1 thousand people were lost, of which 337 were underage, this year - 7.7 thousand people, of which 336 were underage."

 - Where are the most fires?

 - In two regions: Siberia and the Far East - where the number of natural and man-made fires is of particular concern. There are fewer fires in the North Caucasus.

 Most often, residential buildings become objects of fires (91%). The main causes of fire are faulty wiring, violation of the rules of operation of electrical devices. And, it’s oddly enough that in the 21st century, 16% of fires occur due to stove heating. Well, we must not forget about careless handling of fire, including-in a state of alcoholic intoxication. Perhaps this is why the Caucasus, with its customs and traditions, ranks last in terms of the number of fires.

 - The worst thing is that children are often reported dead.

 - Basically, these are children from large, socially disadvantaged families. 69 percent of those who died were under the age of 7. You can’t put up with this! It is impossible to change the situation only by the efforts of the state, it is necessary to combine the efforts of society and each individual.

 "Business is not a nightmare; there are fewer inspections"

 - Businessmen have a tradition: they constantly complain about the Ministry of emergency situations, about state supervision. Pressure from these structures...

 - There are fewer complaints. In order not to be unfounded ... Over the past 7 years, compared with 2013, the total number of inspections, planned and unscheduled, has been reduced by 2.5 times - from almost 600 thousand to 240 thousand.

 - On the one hand, it seems good that "nightmare business" has become less. On the other hand, terrible fires with numerous victims are remembered: "Khromaya Loshad", "Zimnyaya Vishnya" ...

 - One employee of the Ministry of Emergency Situations told me in 2017: such supervisory holidays (by decision of the government, business will be exempted from checks for three years. - A.G.) will make "Lame horses" occur at every step. Why did we check the tenants of shopping places before, and not the entire shopping center? This is a common warning system, fire fighting. How can a store be checked separately from the entire building? There should be one responsible person, the management company - if it is a large shopping center - that is responsible for fire safety.

 Of course, this is a burden on customers - the cost of maintenance. But business should be, including, and socially responsible, think not only about its profit.

 - Business still has not become responsible.

 - We all think in short time categories and quick money. Here and now. Make money quickly, and then it will be as it will. Many people do not think in advance for long-term perspective. We ask you not to spare money for preventive measures. Businessmen often think, maybe nothing will happen? And it will happen - we will not be here. Something like this, people often reason, but do not think about the price of human life.

 - Parents said that in Soviet times the inspector of the State Fire Supervision was the king and god on the territory.

 - Supervisory activity is a "corruption-intensive activity", which has certain risks. Our task is to exclude the conditions for committing a corruption crime. If they are conditions, then there is always a risk, for example, giving a bribe. If we carry out supervisory measures at the facility, let’s, for example, record this on video.

 - Video recorders in the traffic police brought the results - bribes were decreased.

 - Cameras on the roads, it is impossible to negotiate with them. I am sure that the number of speed violations has decreased. If you cross the double continuous marking, you can lose your rights. Traffic police officers are much fewer on the roads. Neither certificates nor bills work. The same should be done here.

 - But is it not worth introducing a fire audit system into insurance?

 - Absolutely right. The question here is for insurance companies. In this case, they will begin to carry out part of our work. No one will insure an object that is not ready, in terms of fire safety.

 - Would you like to turn to the State Duma, to the insurance community to develop a mechanism?

- We are thinking about it, but the owners themselves should be more interested in it.

- In the United States, for example, during an emergency, the state, in fact, does not bear the cost of compensation. Everything is decided by the insurance company. And this is logical, as it was in pre-revolutionary Russia and in Soviet times.

"About staff and salaries, our soul hurts ..."

- What about employees? Did it take a lot of effort to raise workers' salaries?

- We worked on this for a year with the Ministry of Finance.

- How much has the salary increased?

- Average salary was 16 thousand, it has increased to 24. And next year will be 32 thousand. In addition, we are working on changing the approach to employee compensation.


"If the situation is emergency, don't lose your head»

- Once Aisen Sergeevich Nikolaev, the Head of Yakutia, came to me. He said: now we have a flood, then we will catch fire, and then we will start freezing again. They are in emergency situations almost all year round. As well as many regions of our huge country.

So we live in an emergency all year round. We are responsible for everything. The fires were extinguished - winter came. Now the most important thing is that the population does not freeze. In particular, because, for example, there is no fuel in the boiler rooms. And this is typical for the same subjects.

Last year, there were hopeful reports from the regions that everything is in order. And we made a photo fix: there is a pile of coal, which is not enough for a day. They constantly live in an emergency mode. What prevents you to prepare fuel in the summer? Where are the funds that were allocated for this?

- Has the Ministry of Emergencies prepared for winter well?

This year, we have brought the acquisition of special equipment into compliance. How many units of equipment were written off, as new units of equipment were purchased. If the equipment rusts, but continues to be listed - to whom do we want to show that everything is fine with us?

- Is everything all right now?

- The real picture of the availability of equipment in the country is little more than 50 %. So-everything is not as well.

- Can you share forecasts of what natural disasters should be expected next year? In Russia, as well as abroad. And tell us your advice and recommendations to our citizens traveling abroad - on business trips, on vacation...

- We must recognize that the frequency and scale of emergencies both in Russia and in the world, according to the RAS, has increased 4 times since the 80's, and the damage from them has increased more than 6 times. And the reason is not only global warming, but rather it is a consequence. Manifestations of natural disasters are becoming more aggressive every year. Perhaps this is typical for changing natural cycles, but due to the short-term history of meteorological observations, it is difficult for us to answer this question. Therefore, giving long-term forecasts is a thankless task.

More and more often in the course of emergency visits, we have to hear that there were no such destructive consequences before. The only thing I can say is that you should always be prepared for an emergency and behave accordingly, without losing your head. And remember that "security starts with you"!


It is just a miracle, that Vanya Fokin from Magnitogorsk survived in a terrible tragedy, started running and is about to say the first word.

Everyone called his rescue a miracle. On January 1, 2019, ten-month-old baby Vanya Fokin was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed house in Magnitogorsk. A child in light home clothes spent 36 hours under concrete rubble. The frost fell for -26. The boy's father couldn't find a place near the concrete crumb. But it ended up being saved. (details)


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