The Role of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and Executive Branch Agencies of the City of Moscow in Dealing with Emergency Situations Arising from Acts of Terrorism
Aleksandr M. Yeliseev*
Moscow Main Administration for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations
The problems of ensuring the security of people and territory are a top priority for executive- and legislative-branch agencies of the Russian Federation. The major radiation accident at the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station in 1986 and the destructive Spitak earthquake in 1988 demonstrated the need for creating a Russian system for preventing and eliminating the consequences of emergency situations. The Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations, and Elimination of the Consequences of Natural Disasters (MChS) became the central component in this system. Territorial subunits of the MChS are among the executivebranch agencies of the various republics and oblasts that make up the Russian Federation, and they act at the local level to implement state policy with regard to protecting people and territory from emergency situations.
Moscow has historically represented the spiritual center of the Russian land. It is Russia’s largest industrial center, making a substantial contribution to the country’s overall economic indicators. Our city is the country’s most important transport hub, on which the operation of the entire Russian transportation system is dependent. It represents the most important concentration of financial and information flows, which has a significant impact on the development of the state as a whole. Moscow is the center of scientific and cultural life, the focal point of a significant part of our national heritage, and a unique world-class historical and architectural center. All of these factors determine the level of the threat to the vital interests of citizens, social groups, and the city as a whole.
The following types of threats are most typical: criminal, terrorist, social, political, infrastructural, natural, industrial, environmental, informational, and psychological. These threats are of a complex and interrelated nature, with the majority being transnational in scale. These circumstances are characteristic of almost all the world’s major megacities; therefore, they call for a great deal of attention to be devoted by the city leadership to problems of ensuring the security of urban facilities and residents of the capital.
Here, we proceed from the belief that ensuring the security of the population against emergency situations resulting from terrorism, natural and industrial disasters, and other causes is a difficult and complex task, and carrying it out successfully can be done only with the active involvement of all city departments, agencies, and organizations. Therefore, the Moscow City System for Preventing and Eliminating the Consequences of Emergency Situations was created in 1996, functionally linking the city’s various district and departmental services units. City policy for ensuring the security of the population and the urban infrastructure is implemented through the Commissions on Emergency Situations, which have been established in each agency and department of the city administration and which are headed by leaders at the corresponding level. This operating principle facilitates management of the actions of city units in preventing emergencies as well as responding to threats and responding to emergencies once they have occurred. It is also helpful in coordinating the actions of the various services and organizing and efficiently carrying out emergency rescue operations.
In connection with the implementation of a special law passed by the city of Moscow, work is under way citywide to implement a comprehensive targeted program for improving the Moscow city system for preventing and eliminating the consequences of emergency situations. The program was developed on the initiative of the Moscow City Government and the MChS and was supported by the deputies of the Moscow City Duma. The basic goals of the program include
implementing a set of measures aimed at preventing emergency situations, including the establishment of an effective system for monitoring and predicting accidents, catastrophes, and natural disasters
modernizing the management and communications system through the widespread use of the latest information technologies
improving the speed and efficiency of emergency response by creating a highly mobile and technically well equipped rescue service and by developing aviation technologies for use in emergency rescue operations
improving the citywide system for educating the population on the appropriate actions to be taken during emergency situations
However, in recent years terrorism has been one of the main threats to public security. It presents a special danger to major cities and political, economic, and cultural centers. Terrorist acts are taking on ever-increasing scale and
becoming more and more diverse both in form and in the goals for which they are carried out.
Since 1998, Moscow has been subjected to terrorist attacks on more than one occasion. We remember the bombings of apartment buildings on Guryanov Street and Kashirskoe Shosse, the shopping mall at Manezh Square, the underground passageway at the Pushkinskaya metro station, and the seizure of hostages during the performance of the musical Nord-Ost, in which more than 3,000 people were victims, of whom about 600 were killed.
These events have shown that terrorist acts are ever more frequently moving from the realm of potential threats to that of real emergency situations. In our view it is the world community’s failure to respond appropriately to the terrorist acts committed in Moscow in the fall of 1999 that led to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the United States. Those events demonstrated once again that terrorism has no nationality but rather is international in nature, and not a single state is secure against it.
Expert assessments highlight the broad scope of this phenomenon, and many believe that at present in the various countries of the world there are about 100 major terrorist organizations, which maintain contacts among themselves. Therefore, the problem goes beyond the bounds of individual states. Furthermore, in recent years terrorism has acquired the capability of using the achievements of science and technology to further its criminal aims.
We have great understanding for the position of the New York City authorities, as we ourselves were on the scene only minutes after the bombings of the Moscow apartment buildings in 1999. Under the leadership of Moscow Mayor Yury M. Luzhkov and Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, we organized efforts to deal with the consequences of these explosions. We provided detailed reports on these incidents to the European community at an international conference in Vienna in 2000.
Antiterrorism activities in Moscow are conducted at all levels of the city government. This work is coordinated by an antiterrorism commission operating under the leadership of the city’s mayor, and includes the following activities:
improving laws related to the struggle against terrorism
increasing the effectiveness of preventive measures
ensuring the secure operations of industrial facilities and sites where large numbers of people gather
I would like to say that we have done a certain amount of work to ensure the security of residents and of the capital in general, primarily with regard to the creation of laws and regulations addressing these matters.
The city has recently enacted a Law on Protecting the Population and Territory of the City of Moscow from Emergency Situations of Natural and Industrial Origin. A strategy for the security of Moscow has also been adopted, outlining in
systematic form the views of the city’s leadership on ensuring the safety of its residents. In the process of developing this strategy, the programs Moscow Radiation Security and Moscow Chemical Security were also created and adopted to deal with matters related to protecting potentially dangerous facilities against terrorism. In the past few years, Moscow has passed more than 100 regulations governing matters related to the city’s security, and we are prepared to acquaint representatives of the international community with them.
Executive-branch agencies are devoting special attention to monitoring and controlling the activities of all officials involved in implementing preventive measures against emergency situations. In 2002 alone, the State Inspectorate for Protecting the Population and Territory from Emergency Situations conducted checks at more than 10,000 enterprises, organizations, and institutions. Those guilty of violating urban security regulations face administrative penalties and are prosecuted through the civilian court system.
City policy regarding new construction is pursued rather effectively. Moscow has established a system of measures that prohibits the construction or reconstruction of any industrial buildings, housing, or other public facilities that do not include design features intended to prevent possible emergency situations, including potential terrorist acts.
The city has created the Center for Monitoring and Forecasting Emergency Situations, for which the main objectives are the prevention and early detection of emergencies. The components of this system include stationary and mobile Lidar units, which use laser, infrared, and visual observation methods to detect fires and atmospheric emissions of harmful substances.
In accounting for the large amounts of special cargo (gasoline, reagents for refrigeration systems, and so forth) that pass through Moscow and other world cities, cargo that also represents a potential threat of the commission of terrorist acts, we have tightened controls on the transport of such materials by road and rail within the city limits. The city’s law enforcement agencies are paying special attention to the safety of capital residents in locations where large numbers of people gather, such as markets, fairs, and the sites of large cultural events and sports competitions.
The quality of efforts to prevent and eliminate the consequences of emergency situations depends primarily on the level of preparedness of the leadership, specialists, and city residents. This matter is being addressed by providing training to almost all categories of city residents at special educational institutions, enterprises, and places of residence. For example, in 2002, about 30,000 people received special training at educational centers and more than 2 million blue- and white-collar personnel received training at their worksites.
Training games represent the most effective form of preparation for individuals in positions of leadership. Such games allow participants to practice dealing with matters such as procedures for notification and assembly of senior officials, technologies for application in emergency rescue operations and oth-
er urgent activities, organization of assistance to city service providers in eliminating the consequences of emergency situations, comprehensive provision of aid and services to the affected population, and a number of other citywide undertakings.
Earlier this year, a special tactical training exercise was conducted at a Moscow subway station to focus on coordinating the activities of city services in eliminating the consequences of a possible terrorist act involving the use of dangerous chemical substances. During the training exercise, a number of practical measures were developed with the aim of improving the efficiency of emergency rescue efforts under such conditions, and these measures have now been submitted to the Moscow City Government for review.
Efforts to train young people occupy an important place in our work. Last year, in cooperation with the Moscow Educational Committee, we began training students from the capital’s higher educational institutions to serve as reserve rescue personnel. A class entitled “Principles of Everyday Safety” has also been introduced for students in all grades in elementary and secondary schools. The number of participants in “Safety School” competitions is constantly on the rise. Each year, more and more secondary school students participate in “Young Rescuer” summer camps.
Regarding measures to prevent emergencies, we must not forget that the city must also be prepared to eliminate their consequences. The main element of this system is the Center for Crisis Situation Management, which is designed to gather and process information about emergency situations, inform the population, and make well-founded decisions on how to handle such situations.
At present, plans call for the creation of a Unified Monitoring and Dispatch Center for the city of Moscow on the basis of the facilities of the Moscow City Crisis Situation Management Center and the Force Management Center of the State Fire Service Administration of MChS. This new center, which would be reachable by dialing 01, would facilitate the efficient collection and processing of emergency reports, analyze an enormous amount of information under extremely time-critical conditions, and coordinate the actions of all dispatch services included in the city’s unified dispatch system.
The current combined daily volume for the two centers mentioned above is approximately 6,000 calls. After the switch to the single telephone number 01, it is predicted that the number of calls alone will rise to 18,000 per day. This will require a large set of organizational and technical changes to be made, taking into account foreign experience in operating rescue services using single telephone numbers such as 112 and 911.
Creating, training, and developing forces for eliminating the consequences of emergency situations is of enormous significance in the functioning of the system. To this end, the Moscow City Search and Rescue Service has been created in the capital. Also operating in cooperation with us in the city are various MChS rescue units and a number of commercial entities. If a major emer-
gency occurs, plans call for augmenting the rescue service by calling in specialists and equipment from other city organizations.
Since the city search and rescue service was established, rescuers have carried out about 60,000 rescue operations and have saved more than 25,000 people. In 2002 alone, Moscow firefighters handled about 7,000 fires. The timely and skillful actions of personnel from the city’s medical service have saved the lives of thousands of Muscovites involved in emergency situations and accidents.
Unfortunately, Muscovites have been forced to confront inhuman acts of terrorism in practice. We profoundly share the pain and suffering of other nations affected by emergency situations of any kind. Therefore, the government of Moscow is devoting a great deal of attention to humanitarian operations, including those of international scope. We are providing humanitarian aid to the suffering population in various regions of Russia and in other countries, including Kosovo, Afghanistan, Korea, Bolivia, the Balkans, Germany, the Czech Republic, and others.
Overall, we may conclude that the government of Moscow has a great focus on international cooperation in combating terrorism and crime and eliminating the consequences of terrorist acts and natural and industrial disasters. In recent years, stable contacts have been established among counterpart police and emergency services agencies at the municipal level as part of the comprehensive cooperation between Moscow and foreign cities, including those in Europe. Close cooperation is under way with the cities of Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, Helsinki, and others in the form of information sharing, exchanges and training of specialists, and joint training exercises.
In May 2002, on the initiative of Moscow Mayor Yury M. Luzhkov, a meeting of police officials from European countries was convened to promote better coordination in the struggle against terrorism. Moreover, an international meeting on matters of security in major cities is to be held in Moscow in June 2003.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the system that has been created in Moscow for preventing and eliminating the consequences of emergency situations stands ready to cooperate closely in the twenty-first century with any who treasure the ideals of humanism and defense of the most important human right, the right to life.