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Siberian Governor Sparks Backlash With 'Insulting' Comments to Flood Victims

Kirill Shipitsin / TASS

The head of a Siberian region hit by major floods has sparked online backlash for comments addressed toward victims that were deemed insulting.

Authorities in the Krasnoyarsk region town of Kansk declared a state of emergency and evacuated dozens of residents amid severe flooding last weekend. The neighboring Irkutsk region bore the brunt of the devastation, where 14 people have been killed in what scientists have called the biggest floods in 180 years.

Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Uss visited Kansk on Monday, where he examined the extent of the damage and vowed swift disaster relief measures to the estimated 300 victims. Some of Uss’ exchanges with residents caught on video, however, showed Uss in an unfavorable light.

“What do you want to tell me? You want to appeal to the law?” Uss asked one resident after she asked if they would be evacuated by helicopter in case of more flooding. 

“I can appeal to the law too,” he told the woman, who had told him “we’ll be cut off from the world if the road is washed away.”

In another eyebrow-raising exchange, Uss can be seen interrupting a resident who had begun to ask a question, telling the resident: “Calm down, let me fix your collar” as he taps the unamused man on the shoulder.

The governor’s comments ignited online backlash, with local news outlets citing social media comments that call his behavior “unexpected” and “rude.”

Update: Uss later called and apologized to the female resident from the video, the woman told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

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