Russian republic offers free boots to homeless

Russian valenki felt boots Image copyright iStock
Image caption Valenki boots are traditional Russian winter footwear

The head of a republic in Russia's Eastern Siberia region is offering free boots to the homeless to help keep them warm in winter.

Viktor Zimin, who leads the government in Khakassia, made the order to issue valenki - traditional wool winter boots - to the republic's homeless people during a government meeting this week, the Flash Siberia news website reports. Mr Zimin said that a quick response was needed during the current cold snap as donating items through charities can take a long time, "and people might die of cold before then". The government press service quoted him as saying that providing the warm footwear is an inexpensive "but certainly practical" measure for the republic to take.

Landlocked Khakassia lies in south-central Russia, near the borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Temperatures can drop as low as -30C during winter nights, and barely nudge above -20C during the day, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency says. The republic's average temperature year-round is only 0C.

The biting cold has also prompted other organisations to help those living on the region's streets. Cossack Groups and the Orthodox Church have already assisted 125 homeless people with food and warm clothes in two of the republic's major cities, the agency reports.

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