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Russia holds funerals for mall fire victims

29 March 2018

Russian Federation media reported that the doors had been locked.

Burials began Wednesday for the victims of a fire that tore through a mall in Siberia, killing dozens of children between the ages of ten and 13, The Daily Mail reports. The protesters shouted back, asking why it was not published in local media instead. "Because of criminal negligence and carelessness", CNN reported Putin as saying. Many staff responsible for public safety fled when the fire broke out. At least 385 died during the three day siege, a lot of them in the government rescue operation. Thousands also gathered in protest in the city's central square to demand that the authorities release the actual death toll from the fire. One parent related a call, "My son was crying and asked, 'When will we be rescued?'" A previous toll put the number of dead at 37 with almost 70 missing, including 40 children.

In response, thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding answers.

According to President Vladimir Putin's decree, Russian Federation observed a day of national mourning on March 28. That night's news broadcast on Channel One, an agenda-setting programme watched by millions, reported the fire as only the fourth story of the night, after a dispatch about Mr Putin's victory in last week's presidential elections and two segments peddling conspiracy theories about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in Britain.

Monday in Kemerovo passed amid wild rumors that in fact hundreds of people had died and the authorities were hiding the truth.

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"Everyone will be checked one by one, from those who issued licenses to those who were supposed to ensure safety, particularly that private security company whose guard was just sitting there doing nothing and failed to push the button", Putin said.

Tuleyev, meeting with Putin during his visit, blamed "the opposition" and "local busybodies" for fomenting the protests, and said that families of the victims were not at the rally.

People lay flowers at a makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of a fire at a shopping center in Kemerovo on March 27, 2018. "For example: "The Jewish people murdered children as a sacrifice for Passover", and "This is a Jewish murder" have no place in the twenty-first century", Svetlova said. "I think the reason for that tragedy is irresponsibility and corruption".

Russian state television showed footage from inside the charred movie theater where the roof entirely collapsed. For instance, it has established that the doors of the movie theaters were locked with people inside, the fire alarm system was malfunctioning, and the entire building was constructed using highly flammable materials.

A spokeswoman for the administration, Svetlana Kharitonova, told RFE/RL by telephone that she could not comment because the interview Chernov gave to Russian media was not organized by the regional government's press office. That may have accounted for the large number of young victims.

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Yelena Mizulina, a pro-Kremlin MP who helped introduce socially conservative legislation like the country's ban on gay propaganda, said she wanted to speak in support of Putin on a national TV programme on Tuesday evening.

"In total, 76 people were injured in the fire, including 27 children", a spokesperson said.

In a brief statement the Investigative Committee said that at this point the possibility of the fire being caused by an electronic short circuit is the "priority version", but the work is still ongoing. The director, Nadezhda Suddenok, told the court that she believed that the fire was caused by arson. One message read: "Children, forgive us".

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Russia holds funerals for mall fire victims