Yet another massive fire in Russia, and yet again dozens of people are killed because of the Russian fascination for restricting entry and exit to buildings.
The latest victims: 45 women in a drug rehabilition hospital.
The fire was caused by arson, but the deaths were largely due to the fact that there was only one exit to the building, and it was locked:
“It was a very particular building with five storeys and only one exit and bars on the windows because it was a drug treatment hospital,” said Irina Andrianova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Emergencies Ministry.
“Judging by the placement of the bodies, they really tried to get out,” said Alexander Chupriyanov, the deputy emergency situations minister.
I understand some of the reasons for needing to keep some control over who comes and goes at a drug rehabilitation centre, of course. But this isn’t a problem limited to hospitals – it’s far more widespread than that.
I’ve written before about my own experiences of living in a student dormitory in Russia:
The typical Russian dormitory has just one entrance. If this wasnt enough of a fire hazard, this solitary entrance is normally locked at night, preventing residents from going in or out. Ground floor windows are also barred, to prevent break-ins. Now, officially, there is supposed to be someone stationed by the locked door, so that it can be opened in an emergency. More often than not, though, the guard is either off drinking lots of vodka, or dead to the world, sleeping off the evenings vodka.
Yes, Russia has a problem with ageing infrastructure. Some of the structural limitations of Soviet era buildings will be there for decades to come.
But that’s really no excuse for the mentality of those responsible for safety at those buildings – instead of diligently guarding and protecting their charges, they’re usually drunk.
Until that changes, we’ll see many more fire tragedies in Russia.
Update: And, with morbid timing, the day after I wrote this post, a fire at a clinic for mentally ill children in Taiga, Siberia killed eight people. In reporting the story, the BBC note:
Russia records about 18,000 fire deaths a year, AP reports – 10 times more than in the US.
Russia has about half the population of the US, so the chances of a Russian dying in a fire are actually 20 time higher than those of an American citizen.
This is really just a reflection of the four basic facts about Russia that work in symbiosis: (a) total disregard for the value of individual human life, particularly “defective” human life such as homosexuals or drug addicts or non-Slavics, and (b) total incomptence and (c) leeching of the nation’s financial blood by a clan of oligarchs in the Kremlin and (d) abject public indifference (read it as cowardliness, laziness or just plain stupidity, as you will). These are consistent features of Russian history right the way back through the ages. Russians were far more annoyed at the affront to Slavic power by the Beslan and Dubrovka attacks than by the loss of life, to which the regime contributed in equal measure with the terrorists, and the people have not supported inquiries. The situation is even worse with the 1999 apartment bombings, where the Kremlin is killing off the investigating committee one by one and the public not only fails to defend them but allows the Kremlin to paint the effort as an anti-Russian conspiracy. Today’s Russian adults are condeming their children to decades more Soviet rule, and that’s an outrage (they’ve stood idly by while non-state television has been obliterated and Putin has taken control over both national political parties and local elections).
Hence, russophobia. We can either confront the Russians now and suffer less, or confront them later and suffer more.
Hmm, not sure I entirely agree with your upbeat analysis there Kim.
For one thing, if Russians totally disregrard ‘defective’ human life, what were they doing looking after them in a hospital (albiet a horribly unsafe one)?
By the way – I haven’t really heard much about the deaths of members of the appartment bombings investigating committee. Do you have any links?
Ah, I can see you’ve never actually spent any time as an inpatient in a Russian hospital, if you think people are being “looked after” there. *wink* Quite often there’s little difference between a Russian hospital and a concentration camp or torture chamber
and also check out the fourth picture from the bottom here:
Also, you’ve apparently not heard about the famous Russian village of Potemkin. Russia’s government does understand that it has to put up a pretext of civilization since it lacks the resources for a real neo-Stalinist crackdown. And how about asking the converse question: If Russian hospitals really care for people, why did Boris Yeltsin bring in foreign doctors?
But really all you need to know where Russian hospitals are concerned is (a) last weekend they killed 54 people and (b) Russia’s popoulation is a net loser of 1 million ever year. That about as uncaring as you can get without actually building gas chambers.
Here’s a link on the bombing committee members being taken out one by one:
On the medical front, you might be also interested in the way neo-Soviet Russia is re-weaponizing psychiatry: