Russia's Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday laid flowers to a memorial to victims of radiation accidents and disasters in Kursk, a regional centre in southern Russia. At a rally dedicated to the 16th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Shoigu recalled that in Russia there were now more than 200,000 former clean-up workers, with 36,000 of them disabled. "We want less said and more done for these people" who "stopped the spread of this misfortune to other territories of this country and Europe," the minister said. Replying to a question by journalists after the ceremony, Shoigu recalled that the Emergencies Ministry has been tasked with coordinating work to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and rendering help to victims. "We give real help," he emphasised. As part of a number of special federal programmes Russia has built in the past few years scores of hospitals, provided clean-up workers with housing, and continued to construct preventive treatment centres. The disaster contaminated 1,200 square kilometres of the Kursk region. There are 118,500 people living on this area now. The Kursk region has 3,000 former clean-up workers, with more than 300 of them disabled. Shoigu discussed with the regional administration a number of programmes to help Chernobyl victims, in particular build hospitals and put into operation an infectious diseases centre.
More than 3,500 people were detained during unprecedented mass protests that swept across all of Russia in support of Alexey Navalny on January 23