The New York Times writes that Putin faced a very difficult situation after dozens of children die in a burning mall in Siberia.
After the incident, the NYT writes that Putin traveled to Siberia to lay flowers next to a makeshift memorial for at least 64 people, many of them children, who perished on Sunday inside of the mall. Many children died as they banged on the locked exit doors, screaming for help, calling their parents on their cell phones.
"How could this ever happen?" asked Putin to local officials.
Indeed, this is a question that has been, according to NYT, asked by the local population. By the afternoon of the incident, Russian news coverage was almost entirely focused on the shopping mall tragedy and a tightly planned visit by Putin to the town of Kemerovo, located more than 2,000 east of Moscow.
During the vigil to honor those who had died, people apparently began chanting, "Russian without Putin!" and "Corruption kills" and "Shame on television!" and "Silence means death!"
The New York Times writes that Putin, in his response to the fire, tried his best to not mention the real culprit for so many deaths. This is "a state system, including multiple agencies responsible for controlling fires and other risks, eaten away by corruption and incompetence."
“I no longer have a family,” said one person who lost his entire family in the fire. “The ruling regime is guilty. Every bureaucrat dreams of stealing like Putin. Every state functionary treats people like garbage.”
According to this person, the regime will "will find a scapegoat, and the issue will be done with, but the threats — incompetence, widespread corruption, alcoholism and total degradation of society — will go nowhere.”
According to BBC News, many Russian citizens blame President Putin and the government for what they call "criminal negligence," which led to the fire. Relatives say that a dozen people, including children, are still missing, and many of these relatives blame the government for the loss of their loved ones.
Several thousand people rallied outside of the local government headquarters, claiming that officials should be fired over the fire safety shortcomings. There were also people chanting that Putin himself should resign.
Many people protesting didn't even believe that the official death tolls released by the government are correct. Rather, they believe that the death count is much higher.
As protests outside of the local government headquarters continued, local officials then urged the crowd to leave. When this happened, the crowd began to boo.
Russian investigators have so far confirmed the deaths of 64 people, 21 of whom have been identified, according to BBC.
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