Location Russia Russia

Calls for authorities to resign as hundreds rally in Kemerovo, Russia after deadly mall inferno

Traumatized locals have taken to the streets in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Many are calling for the resignation of authorities after a fire in a shopping mall left dozens dead, including many children.

On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people came to the regional administration headquarters after a massive fire at the Winter Cherry Shopping Center claimed the lives of at least 64 people. The demonstrators commemorated the victims but also vented their anger at the authorities, demanding punishment for those responsible for the tragedy.

Relatives of the deceased also turned up at the impromptu rally. Igor Vostrikov, who lost his entire family in the tragedy, including his three kids, his wife and his sister, said that justice must be served following the harrowing tragedy.

“We do not lust for blood here. The children are dead already, we can’t bring them back. But we need clear justice,” the traumatized father said, addressing the deputy governor of Kemerovo. Vostrikov also called for the pursuit of those who are really guilty, rather than just identifying “scapegoats.”

A man whose daughter was trapped in the mall shared his story during the rally.

The man recalled his phone conversation with his child. “I am here, dad,” she said crying. “I told her ‘lie down to the floor and breathe. Breathe, don’t die,’” the man said.

Locals were heard chanting “truth” and “murderers” during the rally. Some social media reports claim the death toll is much higher than the 64 already announced. Local authorities, however, dismissed the allegations. Kemerovo Mayor Ilya Serdyuk suggested visiting a local mortuary to debunk the rumors.

Deputy Governor Sergey Tsivilev even went on his knees in front of the crowd, saying that he wanted to apologize to those affected by the tragedy.

President Vladimir Putin went to the city to pay tribute to the victims on Tuesday. Shortly after laying flowers at the improvised commemoration site, he met with locals, including relatives of the victims.

“Make no doubt, all those guilty will be punished,” Putin said, adding that around 100 investigators are working on the case. The president cautioned that it’s still too early to pin the blame on anyone before all the facts are on the table and the inquiry is concluded.

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