When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Russia

A Year After Massive Fires, Is Russia Burning Again?

Greenpeace disputes the Russian government’s forest fire statistics in the region around Moscow. The controversy is especially charged following last summer’s blazes that decimated agriculture and killed hundreds when huge plumes of smoke blew into the ca

A smoky view of central Moscow last August (Ulishna)
A smoky view of central Moscow last August (Ulishna)
Ivan Buranov

MOSCOW - All the fires raging around the Moscow region have been extinguished, and all new blazes that spring up are put out as soon as they are discovered. That, at least, is the view of the Russian government's Emergencies Situations Ministry and the Federal Fire Service.

But environmentalists insist many fires are still flaring up that the authorities are hiding, including blazes that continue to rage in the Vladimir and Ryazan regions adjacent to Moscow. And very soon, the activists say, a smoky smog will envelop the capital as it did last summer.

Last August, hundreds of deaths were blamed on respiratory failure linked to the smoke from the worst Russian wild fires in memory, also responsible for the widespread destruction of crops that cost some $15 billion in damages.

As August approaches, attention to the severity of wild fires – which tend to occur each summer – is higher than ever. The Emergency Situations Ministry told deputy prime minister Viktor Zubkov that in a recent 24-hour period, there had been 12 forest and peat fires, but they had all been quickly extinguished.

But Greenpeace Russia says the situation is not quite so rosy. The head of its fire information service Gregory Kuksin said in the area surrounding Moscow, there were at least ten large fires, mostly in the Shatura region. Some of the fires have been raging for weeks.

Kuksin said on the whole, local authorities are reacting swiftly, but real information is for some reason being hushed up. He added that many of the forest fires are burning along the boundary of the Moscow region.

A Greenpeace Russia team arrived Tuesday morning to put out a peat bog fire in a town in the Vladimir region. The wind was blowing the smoke towards Moscow.

Active fires on the rise

On Monday, residents in the southeast of the capital reported that they could smell smoke, but Russia's meteorological service insisted this was not due to burning peat.

Across the rest of Russia, however, the situation is worrying. The Emergency Situations Ministry says the number of active fires has increased by 20 percent over the last 24 hours, from 167 to 206, affecting an area of 11 thousand hectares.

The worst affected areas are the regions of Yakutia, Komi, Khabarovsk and Archengelsk. Zubkov has demanded firefighting equipment be more quickly deployed to the outlying regions, pointing out that $100 million had been set aside for this after last year's disaster.

But the deputy prime minister also added that it was still necessary to find and punish those responsible for violating the norms in effect to prevent the tinderbox conditions of dry land and brush that tends to ignite the fires. Reports into administrative violations have been compiled and investigators are looking into more than 400 cases.

Read the original article in Russian

photo - Ulishna

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ