July 25, 2020 | News | No Comments
Aman Tuleyev, the longtime governor of Russia’s Kemerovo region where a huge mall fire killed at least 64 people including 41 children last weekend, resigned on Sunday.
"I submitted my resignation letter to the Russian president," he said in a three-minute video address released by his office.
Tuleyev, who had been at the helm of the key coal-mining region since 1997, said he could no longer remain at his post with "such a heavy burden" and added that his resignation was "the only right choice".
At least 64 people – including 41 children – died when a huge fire ravaged a mall in the industrial city of Kemerovo in western Siberia last Sunday.
The tragedy – in which some parents lost all their children – plunged Russia into shock.
Many people who lost relatives have said they died because of the inaction of firefighters and police lacking the necessary equipment and skills.
Tuleyev himself came under heavy criticism for failing to visit the scene of the tragedy in the first few days or meet with angry relatives.
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President Vladimir Putin had initially refused to sack the 73-year-old governor despite rare protests in the city.
Officials have said that multiple safety rules were violated, the fire alarm system was not working and staff did not follow correct emergency procedures.
Six people have been arrested in the case, including the head of the regional construction inspection agency when the shopping center was developed in a former candy factory, and the general director of the company that owns the mall.
But distrust in Russian officials’ promises of a thorough investigation is strong.
"They’re not telling us the truth. Judging by everything, nobody saved the children, they closed them off and abandoned them," said Olga Begeza.
"It seems that our lives don’t count for anything. That’s the only thing my family has understood," she said.
In the days after the fire, tens of thousands of people in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities have streamed to makeshift memorials to the fire victims, bringing flowers