News / Europe

Russia's Heat Turns Political

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Russia's two-month heat wave took a political turn as protesters tried to gather in front of Moscow City Hall to demand the resignation of Moscow's mayor.

The sidewalk protest demanding Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's resignation never got off the ground, though, as police moved in swiftly, strong-arming 34 protesters - including the three organizers - into waiting police buses.

Protesters said they were angry the mayor vacationed in Europe for a week while Moscow choked in wood smoke and smog from a surrounding ring of forest fires.

Lawyer Natalya Belaeva said she was not surprised the mayor was on vacation.  She said she was surprised that he came back.  She said while the Mayor was on vacation her neighbor died of the smog, and her own dog died of the smog.

A smog wave is predicted to blanket the city again this weekend.  Fueling the gray haze are 560 forest fires, a number little changed in recent days.  

About 10 percent of the fires are in national parks and reserves, including one that flared up in Moscow's massive Losiny Ostrov park.  Two villages around Moscow were evacuated due to fire danger.

Israel Marques, an American political science student who watched the protest, said his Russian neighbors and university friends were angry about the dense smog that blanketed Moscow.

"Everybody is really ticked off about the smog and it does not help that the government has only gotten really interested in the last few days," said Marques.

Boris Gromov, governor of the region that rings Moscow city, said workers are starting to lay a 300-kilometer network of water pipes to re-flood peat bogs with water.  During the Soviet era the bogs were drained, and the peat was cut for fuel.  Now, underground peat fires are a major source of air pollution.

On the national level, President Dimitri Medvedev announced $1 billion in aid to farmers, and almost $2 billion to purchase new fire trucks and fire-fighting airplanes.

On the sidewalk outside Moscow's City Hall, though, talk kept returning to Mayor Luzhkov, and what protesters said was his lack of leadership during the city's crisis.  Protesters were not pacified by Kremlin news leaks carried in Thursday's papers that criticized the mayor.

Victor Davidoff, a writer who participated in the protest, said his friends were disgusted to learn that the Mayor, a passionate beekeeper, seemed to show more concern for his bees than for Moscow's 11 million residents.  "Everyone knows they evacuated his bees from his bee farm to a safe place, and at the same time he did not come to the city."

Mayor Luzhkov swung into action, asking Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service to study the price hikes of bread, a national staple.  During the past week, bread prices have jumped by 20 percent.  Some supermarkets have posted signs saying that the price of flour has jumped by as much as 50 percent.

President Medvedev said Russia has lost about one quarter of its crops this year to heat and drought, and the Agriculture Ministry says Russia will export only 10 percent to 20 percent of the amount of grain as last year.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid