Russia sees rare protest after flooding devastates city

Russia sees rare protest after flooding devastates city
Protestors gather in Orsk / Nina Ostanina
By bne IntelliNews April 10, 2024

Residents of the Russian city of Orsk have taken to the streets to demand swift action and compensation following devastating flooding that has left the city submerged in water.

The protest, which took place on April 8, came two days after the Orsk Dam collapsed under the pressure of torrential rain and melting snow. Orsk is located in the Ural region, near the border with Kazakhstan, and has a population of around 200,000. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as a result of the flooding, and the damage is estimated to be more than RUB1bn ($11mn).

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into the “violation of safety measures” and “negligence,” citing the dam’s poor maintenance as a cause of the breach. 

Gathering at the administration building on Komsomolskaya Square in the centre of the city, hundreds of locals chanted of "Putin, help!" and "Shame!” in defiance of laws that prohibit demonstrations without the permission of authorities and despite warnings that people would be arrested.

In a bid to address the mounting discontent, Orsk Mayor Vasily Kozupitsa attempted to engage with the protesters, only to be met with interruptions and inquiries about compensation for their flooded homes. Eventually, a group of demonstrators was granted a meeting with regional governor Denis Pasler.

Following the meeting, Pasler announced a series of measures. This included financial aid for rental accommodations, the establishment of a commission to assess damages, and assurances of support for affected enterprises.