Governor resigns over deadly mall fire in Russia

Governor resigns over deadly mall fire in Russia

MOSCOW – Reuters
Governor resigns over deadly mall fire in Russia

The governor of Russia’s Kemerovo region resigned on April 1 over a mall fire that killed more than 60 people after a litany of violations in safety procedures left shoppers and children trapped inside the building.

Aman Tuleyev said in a video posted on the regional administration’s website that resigning was the only course of action possible.

“With such a heavy burden, it’s impossible to work as the governor,” he said. “It’s morally impossible.”

March 25’s fire, one of the deadliest in Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union, swept through a cinema complex and children’s play area on the upper floors of the Winter Cherry shopping center in the regional capital.

Investigators said last week that fire exits had been illegally blocked, the public address system was not switched on, the alarm system was broken, and children had been locked inside cinemas.

President Vladimir Putin said the incident had been caused by criminal negligence and that those responsible would be punished.

On March 30, police arrested an executive with the firm that owns the shopping mall.

The calamitous way the emergency was handled stirred public anger in Kemerovo and focused attention on corruption and lax fire safety standards. Rallies commemorating the victims were held across the country, including in Moscow and St Petersburg.