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Russian prime minister, Valdimir Putin, chaired a meeting of the Government Presidium where he also proposed raising the minimum compensation paid to the victims of disasters, adding that amendments to that effect have already been drafted.

Almost 4000 people have died in the wildfires leading to today’s (August 10) decision to declare a state of emergency declared in Russia’s Urals city of Ozersk, one of the largest nuclear storage and fuel-reprocessing centres in the country.

Mr Putin said: “The record-high temperatures in Central Russia are causing forest fires and drought, which are impacting agriculture.

“Relief work has begun we have also drafted amendments to enable the government to take decisions on emergency relief as quickly and with the greatest flexibility possible.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has been instructed to draw up proposals on the use of grain from the intervention fund.

“Large harvests in the past few years allowed us to accumulate 9.5 million tonnes of grain in that fund.

“Now it will be used to stabilise the market and help corporate and private farmers maintain their current livestock populations.

“We have taken the decision to distribute this grain directly, without auctions, on the basis of requests from the regions in need, so that the aid is targeted and prompt.

“As for the temporary ban on grain exports from Russia, we have been forced to do this, as you know.”

Russian national grain consumption amounts to roughly to 78 million tonnes a year, due to the drought the latest Agriculture Ministry forecasts predict a far smaller yield than expected at the beginning of the year perhaps as low as 60 million tonnes.

Luke Walsh

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