Russia orders prisoners to combat forest fires due to lack of soldiers

9 May, 11:54 AM
Prisoners put out fires in Russia (Photo:NTV)

Prisoners put out fires in Russia (Photo:NTV)

Russian prisoners have been tasked with fighting annual forest fires in one district of Siberia, Russian propaganda channel NTV reported on May 8.

In the village of Gromadsk in Krasnoyarsk Krai, prisoners from a local penal colony were used to reportedly suppress a nearby blaze. 

Five people are said to have died because of natural fires in the region. 19 more have been injured, according to official numbers. In total, out-of-control fires have destroyed more than 500 homes. 

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The situation in the region "remains difficult" and gusts of wind are hampering firefighting efforts. 

In Siberia, these forest fires are an annual phenomenon, exacerbated by illegal logging and official downplaying of the problem. Seasonal fires are usually extinguished by the military, with the help of special equipment. This year, Russians were told that it was gusts of wind that allegedly prevented the fire from being suppressed more successfully, while in reality most of the manpower, which would typically be used for firefighting, has been sent to fight in Ukraine. 

Earlier, it was reported that the annual Siberian forest fires are twice as large as last years and have gotten out of control, as Russian servicemen, which usually fight them, are now at war in Ukraine.

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