RA’s Daily Russian News Blast – Aug 16, 2010


TODAY: Fewer Moscow fires but other regions still suffering, pollution spreads to Nizhny Novgorod, extreme weather hits Leningrad; Ponomaryov hospitalized after arrest; Kremlin-appointed Luzhkov; Kadyrov calls for regional heads to have common titles; Lukashenko row; ‘stateless’ ethnic Russians, MC Noize.
Wildfires in the Moscow region are thought to have calmed down, but the situation has not improved in harder-to-reach areas, and the authorities are torn over whether or not to evacuate and flood land where peat bog fires are burning at a projected cost of $670 million.  Russia’s ‘horror movie‘ continues, with smog returning to Moscow yesterday.  Rain is expected to clear the air today, but the smog has now also hit Nizhny Novgorod and is impeding traffic on the River Volga, says RIA Novosti.  Strong winds and storms caused disruptions to rail travel and left thousands without electricity in the Leningrad region on Sunday.  Two US firefighting planes have arrived in Moscow, and NASA satellites are registering fewer hotspots, but apparently these results are unreliable due to cloud coverage.

Human rights veteran Lev Ponomaryov was taken to hospital with high blood pressure after being arrested at an anti-Yury Luzhkov rally last week.  The Moscow Times on Luzhov’s handling of the early days of Moscow’s heatwave: ‘If Luzhkov knew that he would soon be facing re-election — his term expires in October 2011 — would he have allowed himself a vacation while Moscow was being ravaged by heat and toxic smog? Of course not. But neither Luzhkov nor whoever may replace him must worry about voter approval since the Kremlin appoints governors.‘   
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s idea that Russia’s regional leaders should share the same title has ‘rapidly gained steam‘ since last week.  President Alexander Lukashenko’s row with Moscow continues – he is accusing Russian authorities of putting pressure on him ahead of the next Belarussian elections.  The New York Times investigate ‘stateless‘ ethnic Russians. 
On the latest anti-establishment track from Noize MC, apparently inspired by his 10-day imprisonment.  A ‘new history‘ by a professor at the University of California reevaluates the Soviet role in the end of World War II.
PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev looks at a Walther pneumatic pistol presented to him by the members of the national shooting team in the Rus sanatorium near Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, Friday, Aug 13, 2010, with an unidentified teammate at right. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)