Monday, 7 December 2009

Perm nightclub fire. The aftermath.

Vladimir Putin has announced that bereaved families whose loved ones died in the Perm nightclub fire will each receive 500,000 rubles compensation. The measure exacerbates the sense that this incident, which cost 113 lives, was not simply a terrible accident.

The Lame Horse nightclub failed to observe fire regulations. And its owners are reported to have left the city in an attempt to flee the scene, shortly after it burnt down. It has been alleged that the premises suffered from ‘the same firetrap conditions’ for eight years.

The club’s website ‘gallery’ shows revellers dancing beneath a dry weave of twigs. In retrospect it does appear an obvious fire hazard. Although many of us will have been in venues throughout Europe which appeared equally unsafe.

The site itself has become a poignant and disturbing remnant of a death-trap. The menus, the news section, hold the same macabre fascination involved in browsing the diary of a murderer.

A criminal investigation is now in progress, which could result in charges of ’reckless negligence’ and seven year prison sentences for those responsible. Whether a little soul searching will take place about corruption in Russia remains to be seen. Dmitry Medvedev has spoken before about rooting out legal nihilism.

Of course corruption and negligence are not exclusive to former Soviet countries and other similar incidents have taken place before.

What is beyond dispute is the terrible suffering which this fire has caused.

At the Russian embassy in Riga, Latvia, crowds have gathered to lay flowers and a book of condolence has been opened. In Russia itself a day of mourning has been observed. The shared grief of fractious rivals a potent symbol of the universal impact of human tragedy.


K D Tennent said...

But is a change in the law about fire safely likely? A lot of western safety legislation exists to counter mistakes made that caused accidents.

Chekov said...

Kev. As I understand it the problem was that the fire safety legislation was not being adhered to. It's more likely that changes will be around implementation. Although obviously the investigation will uncover whether other fire safety measures might be needed. All sorts of wooden pseudo villagey stuff is popular in Russia and I'm sure it's perfectly safe if proper regulations are adhered to. But I can think of several restaurants / bars etc. which were a bit like the photos of the Lame Horse.

K D Tennent said...

Of course, wooden buildings are perfectly safe even if common sense is used - using fireworks in an enclosed space is always a bad idea. No doubt enforcement is the real problem - but deaths would probably have been avoided if there was more than one exit and the venue had been operating within capacity.