Disaster Recovery- Russian Style

Among the several articles on the clearly serious new threat – meteors and asteroids – is this article in the Washington Post today: After the Meteor, Some in Russia Prepare to Clean Up.

My initial reaction was to chuckle, but then I realized it is a sad commentary on Russian emergency management. I think one can say it shows a fundamental lack of trust between government and its citizens, and then it shows  bad communications, bad science, and the misuse of religion. Other than that they seem to be muddling through. Some excerpts:

As early as Friday evening, the governor had announced that, throughout the city, 200,000 square meters of glass needed replacing. That’s just about 50 acres’ worth — all of it to be paid for by the government. That no one could have made such a calculation with any degree of accuracy in just a few hours was beside the point. Here was an unexpected opportunity to place a very large order.

Yurevich estimated the total damage at about $33 million, but several officials suggested that figure will rise.

‘Force majeure’ circumstances are always a gift to the authorities,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, a political consultant in Moscow, “because you can just write off everything that’s stolen.

Sergei Parkhomenko, a former science editor turned political writer, speaking on the Ekho Moskvy radio station, said authorities had lived up to popular expectations.

“As we can see, the first reaction is this: ‘Everybody lies,’ ” he said. “The second: ‘Everything is stolen.’ That’s what we hear in response to various statements by all officials — local, regional and federal. People are treated with great disdain, and there is a huge variety of fantasies, fears, some panic and so on. Why is this happening? From distrust.”


“Planetary Security” is the term HSWire coined for this article , published on February 18, about the threat of meteors and asteroids.  I guess someone will have to design a whole new field of study!

2 thoughts on “Disaster Recovery- Russian Style

  1. Claire,

    Your comments re Russia are interesting to read–but ultimately what they really say is that all disasters are social. Following that, a disaster in Russia is not the same as a disaster here. But you seem to want to use us a a benchmark?

    In some respects I see the Russians as a bit more honestly dishonest. We have many stories of not governments, but individuals, who seek to capitalize on disasters for their own benefit.

    In the end, the scale may be the same–but the institutional structure may provide for different avenues to reach that scale.

    The Russians have been weaned on a century’s worth of governmental corruption and their comments need to be read through that lens–they are an emerging system and will change in time.

    Our current corruption may not be in disaster relief, but there is ample evidence to suggest that it is there in large scale in Medicare.

    • I think there are common characteristics of disasters, where ever they may occur; and I think there are some common characteristics of an effective emergency management system, no matter what the country. Agreed that there are many ways to conduct emergency management. And many ways to measure effective emergency management.

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