As you know I have a newfound fascination for the biggest country in the world.
Currently it is in the grip of a huge natural disaster; widespread wildfires. This is a fantastic set of photos by Igor Podgorny.
Our media coverage of this situation is pathetic, as this blogger points out. Many people have fled north or left the country altogether, others are staying and sitting it out; including my friend in Moscow whom I stayed with on holiday just a few weeks ago.
Having stared out to the city centre and the buildings opposite from her balcony, you could barely see them at the weekend, as she showed me over Skype. Fortunately it has mostly cleared now, hopefully permanently.
This video (also pictures below it) from Ivan Malyshev is terrifying. The family shout at each other as they try to decide what to do, eventually screaming ‘back, back! Go back!!‘ as they see they can’t move forward any more.
580 people left this village, of which this family was one. Below the video is an exerpt from a meeting between Putin and the governor of Nizhny Novgorod region, Valery Shantsev, who refuses help from the federal government saying local forces can handle the situation and it’s “under control”. I’m guessing its residents disagree.
Even once the fires calm, that won’t be the end of the trouble, as the following report explains:
After the heat and fire to our country will face new natural disasters.
In August and September in central Russia may be hit by hurricanes, tornados and torrential rains, meteorologists have warned.
According to experts, not only Central Russia is prone to this scourge, but also the left-bank Volga, parts of the Urals and North Caucasus.
The likelihood of hurricanes and storms is highest in areas where there are large bodies of water and there may be considerable temperature differences between the heated land and cooler water surface. It is suffering today from fires in the Ivanovo, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Lipetsk and Tambov regions.
Much of this year’s crop is destroyed, resulting in a ban on grain exports and no doubt other produce. Face masks, air conditioning units and fans are unattainable (but no doubt on the black market by now).
My friend was even worried that the fan her parents sent her by train would be stolen and sold on for around 10,000 rubles (about £200) by the attendants. Or even that she’d be robbed on her way home.
Please share the blog linked to at the top – this is surely more newsworthy than Naomi Campbell’s latest session in the dock, whether you agree with the climate science or not (though I still don’t get why people are disagreeing… same reason people ignore other scientific findings I suppose).