Belated comment on the Kemerovo fire that killed 64 people, including 41 children.
1. Tragedies like this are inevitable and will always happen, the best that could be done is working to minimize and mitigate them (personally I favor legislating exorbitant compensation for victims, since money > ethics so far as almost all businesses are concerned).
2. Russia’s high rates of deaths from fires are, like its high mortality in general, part of its Soviet legacy of mass alcoholization.
Moreover, it has been going DOWN under Putin, just like suicide, murders, deaths from alcohol poisoning. Tragic as it is, Kemerovo wouldn’t even have been a big scandal in 2000s, whereas today, it provokes a large local protest (which Western journalists rushed to portray as yet another failure of and challenge to Putin).
Mortality from fires in the USSR, 1946-1990 [orange - total deaths].
3. There were claims of 300-400 deaths early on, which Western journalists eagerly latched onto.
Hearing from Moscow sources that the death toll in #KemerovoFire may be 300-400 – 5 times higher than official 65. Kremlin and @MchsRussia may be trying to manage news. 175 children in just one mogue but parents can't see them without signing confidentiality agreement. #kemerova
— Jason Corcoran (@jason_corcoran) March 26, 2018
Said “Moscow sources” turned out to be some random Ukrainian scumbag.
A more relevant point is that in the modern, inter-connected world, it is exceedingly difficult to conspire to hide away deaths. Russia didn’t even manage to do this with respect to the Wagner mercenaries murdered by the US in Syria, while Western propaganda about hundreds of deaths was also eventually disproven, as social media reports trickled in and gradually confirmed the most realistic estimates of a few dozen deaths.