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The city administration will not compensate people who lost property in a market fire in Makhachkala in March, the mayor has said. A number of victims told OC Media they intend to fight the decision.
The fire on 31 March devastated the city’s Dagelektromash market, which mainly consisted of clothes shops, as well as stores selling household appliances.
Daghestan’s government had established a commission to restore the market. However, on 17 October, at a meeting with shopkeepers affected by the fire, city mayor Musa Musayev said the city administration does not intend to pay out compensation.
A statement published later on his official Instagram page explained that compensation would not be paid because the market was in private hands.
‘Had the entrepreneurs or the market owners insured their businesses, they would have been compensated’, the statement said.
The decision not to pay out compensation came as a surprise to many, as immediately after the fire, authorities promised to do so as well as to restore the market.
‘On the day the mayor arrived, they staged a real spectacle: taxi drivers standing nearby were dressed in vests and given some tools to look as if they were workers. The mayor arrived, he was shown some papers, supposedly a renovation plan. When he left, the taxi drivers took off the vests and went their own way’, one victim of the fire, Amin Magomedov told OC Media.
The manager of one aisle of the market, Khadizhat Akhmedova, told OC Media that for more than a thousand victims a total of ₽7 million ($122,000) was paid out, around ₽6,700 ($117) each.
According to her, a total of 1,460 shops and stalls were destroyed in the fire, and around 4,000 people have remained out of work since, as the market provided jobs to salesmen, taxi drivers, loaders, as well as to cafés working around it.
Akhmedova had been working at the market for 10 years and ran four shops there. She claims to have suffered ₽5 million ($87,000) in damages.
‘At the meeting, the mayor made it clear we would not get anything else. He said, “you did not pay taxes, so the city doesn’t owe you anything”. What does he mean to say? I have a whole folder with tax receipts!’ Akhmedova said.
Another woman, who introduced herself as Farida, told OC Media that the mayor had threatened victims of the fire.
‘For example, he said if we go out [to the streets] again with our demands, the conversation will be different, “I will shut you down”, he said. One of our activists is already being dragged to the police and threatened. Mostly it is women who are active. We are not afraid, we have nothing to lose, we have already lost everything’, Farida said.
A group of shopkeepers have made an appointment to meet with the new acting head of the republic, Vladimir Vasilyev.