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Moscow Mayor Back on Holiday

Luzhkov081810.jpgRudely interrupted from his vacation when wildfire smoke made Moscow air a health hazard, Mayor Yury Luzhkov is back on holiday again. Political opponents and some Muscovites criticized Luzhkov for responding too late to the emergency situation. Putin, on the other hand, praised the mayor for his “timely” return. Another example of temporal relativity, I guess. The Moscow Times reports:

Ordinary Muscovites were largely forgiving of the mayor’s decision to head back out of the city Wednesday, as forecasters were predicting that daytime highs could fall by as much as 15 degrees Celsius to a moderate 20 C by Saturday.

The peat smoke has mostly cleared, although the city government reported on its web site that carbon monoxide levels remained elevated.

“What can he do about the weather? What difference is it where he is?” said Alexei, 38, who was pushing a stroller with his child and his pregnant wife, Lyudmila, in central Moscow.

But Yekaterina Smirnova, 25, an economist who was walking her lap dog in a city park, said she was angry about Luzhkov’s attitude. “I think it shows how the government, and Luzhkov personally, cares about people during difficult situations,” she said.Opposition groups were even more critical of Luzhkov, whose politicalfuture has been clouded since the Kremlin began leaning on otherlong-term regional bosses to hand over power.

“People were not given enough information on how to fight the heat,”said Sergei Udaltsov, head of the Left Front opposition group. Thegovernment’s slow response to the heat and smoke resulted in a sharpspike in deaths among elderly Muscovites, he said.

(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Drushinin, Pool)