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Deputy Mayor, Plant Managers Detained Over Major Power Outage in Moscow Region

Apartment blocks left without heating in Podolsk. Typical Podolsk / VK

A Moscow region official and two senior executives at a military production plant have been detained over ongoing power outages outside the Russian capital, Russia’s Investigative Committee said Tuesday, as subzero temperatures grip much of the country. 

At least 21,000 people had power knocked out in their homes in the town of Podolsk last Thursday when a heating main burst at the Klimovsk Specialized Ammunition Plant. Regional authorities initially claimed they had no control over the plant's operations since it is a military site.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said that Podolsk’s deputy mayor was accused of abusing power when he issued a certificate of readiness for the boiler house that broke down at the plant.

“Knowing about the need to check the equipment for the heating season, as well as the presence of its defects, [the deputy mayor] signed the inspection readiness act for the 2023-24 heating period and issued a certificate of readiness to the plant, which led to an accident in the heating pipeline,” it said.

The Investigative Committee did not reveal the name of the detained deputy mayor, but unverified reports identified him as 42-year-old Roman Ryazantsev.

Klimovsk Specialized Ammunition Plant’s general director and the head of the boiler house were also detained on charges of violating safety standards, the Investigative Committee added.

Video shared by the law enforcement authority showed investigators pressing charges against the executives at the boiler house.

The arrests came a day after the Kremlin announced that President Vladimir Putin had personally “taken control” of the investigation into the widespread power outage in the Moscow region.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged that Russia’s housing and utilities system is plagued by old equipment and vowed to continue upgrading it.

Residents of Podolsk and other Moscow region towns where similar power outages were reported have demanded that Putin and local authorities restore heating in their homes.

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