Russia's Putin gets video tirade over late blizzard rescue

Urals snowstorm - Vesti TV still Image copyright Vesti TV still
Image caption Russian TV news showed brief shots of the blizzard - now a storm of criticism has hit the emergency services

A blizzard survivor has addressed an angry video message to Russian President Vladimir Putin after about 80 people waited 15 hours for rescuers in the Orenburg region of Russia.

A driver froze to death and many others suffered frostbite when their vehicles were trapped on a main road in the region, in the southern Ural mountains.

Russia sends aid abroad but "we cannot save our own people", Pavel Gusev said.

Nearly half a million people have watched his video on YouTube.

"I appeal to you, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] - I ask you to deal with all this, help those who suffered severe frostbite... and sort out our emergency services ministry," his message said.

According to Mr Gusev, some calls for help got the reply from rescue service staff: "You should have stayed at home, you had no business going out."

Image copyright Vesti TV still
Image caption Rescuers had to dig cars out of the snow when the storm had passed (pic: Vesti TV news)

Prosecutors in Russia's Investigative Committee (SK) are now examining the emergency response on the night of 3 January, when cars were buried in snow on the Orenburg-Orsk road.

Survivors say the blizzard was so bad there was virtually no visibility.

Russia's Vesti TV news reports that a policeman who gave his workman's jacket to a freezing woman and his gloves to a man during the rescue will get a medal from the regional interior ministry.

Danil Maskudov's assistance is seen as a heroic gesture - he is now in hospital too, with severely frostbitten fingers.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said worshippers should pray that others act as nobly as that policeman.

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