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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More