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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blackout Inquiry Finds Errors

A State Duma inquiry on Wednesday laid the blame for a massive power outage that swept Moscow and surrounding regions in May on human error at Russia's electricity monopoly, backing up findings of the company's own investigation.

"The main reason for the large-scale energy crisis was the mistaken and inadequate actions of the control staff, of both Unified Energy Systems and its regional divisions," said Valery Yazyev, chairman of the Duma Energy, Transportation and Communications Committee. The cascading outage, which began at a substation in the Moscow region on May 25, crippled public transportation, shut down industries and left millions in Moscow and nearby areas without electricity.

In its own report on the blackout, UES said that more needed to be done to toughen up operating standards as well as to overhaul and modernize its crumbling equipment.

On the eve of the accident "it was clear that the system was overloaded, but no advice on what needed to be done in these situations existed and the personnel at the substation weren't sufficiently alert," Yazyev said.,"

UES chief Anatoly Chubais accepted blame for the outage, and has said management made a "strategic mistake" by failing to ensure more protection against such accidents.

UES has stakes in 72 regional power companies and 37 federal power plants.

Reforming the debt-laden company has long been seen by investors as a litmus test of the government's commitment to economic reforms.