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    Russian president's envoy slams mayors, praises regions over fires

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    Russians have been let down by local officials over the wildfires that have killed 50 people, but at a regional level the response has been effective, the Russian president's envoy to the Central Federal District said.

    Russians have been let down by local officials over the wildfires that have killed 50 people, but at a regional level the response has been effective, the Russian president's envoy to the Central Federal District said.

    Georgy Poltavchenko told the state Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper that although culpable officials must be held accountable, the priority for now had to be dealing with the fires.

    "If you talk about the heads of municipalities, there will be a 'debriefing.' Those who were idle or neglected their duties will be brought to justice. But first you need to put out fires and create a safe environment for the people," the envoy said in an interview published on Friday.

    Local officials have been accused of not doing enough to prevent fires and of failing to respond adequately to the blazes. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week called on local leaders who had not dealt with the crisis properly to resign.

    Poltavchenko said that in contrast to failures at the local level, the regional response had been sufficient.

    "The regional authorities, in the adverse weather conditions that we currently have, are in my opinion being quite effective," he said.

    "The situation is under control, and no one is sitting around doing twiddling their thumbs," he added.

    States of emergency have been introduced in seven regions due to the fires, which have killed at least 50 people.

    More than 150,000 personnel are working to fight the fires, which have been sparked by a prolonged drought and weeks of abnormally high temperatures.

    MOSCOW, August 6 (RIA Novosti)

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