Prosecutor: Risk of accidents at Russian energy facilities is growing

Deputy Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov said Tuesday that there was an ever-growing risk of accidents at Russian energy facilities, and he said prosecutors would inspect every such site by the end of the year, Russian news agencies reported.

"The inspection will center on the enforcement of safety regulations and laws aimed at preventing accidents and industrial disasters," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Kolesnikov was addressing a committee meeting in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on last month's blackout in Moscow and surrounding regions.

The May 25 blackout affected millions of people, stranding subway riders and trolley passengers and leaving entire neighborhoods in the dark.

The outages began with an explosion and fire at a 40-year-old substation. The power outage then cascaded, reaching as far as the Tula region, 120 miles south of Moscow. Electricity was restored only the following day.

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for the outage, but Russian authorities said there was no evidence of sabotage.

Anatoly Chubais, the chief of the Unified Energy Systems electricity monopoly, blamed outdated equipment and a lack of investment in the country's electricity grid.

But Kolesnikov on Tuesday blamed senior UES officials for failing to respond to city authorities' warnings of flaws in the system.

He blamed the outage on inefficient safety systems, the high wear-and-tear rate on equipment and an "obsession with profit-making to the detriment of security," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

"Regrettably, I have to admit that the risk of accidents at our energy facilities keeps growing," he was quoted as saying.

The head of the Moscow branch of UES, longtime Chubais associate Arkady Yevstafyev, submitted his resignation on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin dressed down Chubais at a government meeting and pinned the outage on the "cynicism and obvious incompetence" of the Moscow branch.

Associated Press

On the photo: Deputy Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov

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