News / Europe

Russia's Heat Turns Political

Multimedia

Audio
James Brooke

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.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs