Medvedev signs emergency decree for fire-hit regions
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday declared a state of emergency in seven regions hit by devastating forest fires, DPA reported.
The decree gives local authorities greater powers to battle the blazes, which have claimed 36 lives and left thousands homeless.
The president also ordered forest areas be sealed off to unauthorized persons so that the emergency services could have priority access.
Medvedev said he was beefing up the 2,000 soldiers helping the around 240,000 civil defence workers battling the blazes - the worst in decades.