Radioactive fires threaten Russia and Europe.

This summer, Russia has suffered immensely from forest fires: it has become a habitual picture that fire extinguishing crews frequently have to struggle with large-scale fires. The other day, Russia’s prosecutor general charged his team with investigating the causes of the fires. Does this mean that the prosecutor suspects arson?

Governor of the Moscow region Boris Gromov says that, several years ago, a well-regulated fire-preventing system was created in the region; however, it doesn’t function now. The governor says this is probably due to larceny in the system itself.

As it turned out, considerable sums have been appropriated for fire-fighting activities; as a result, there is no money and no fire-preventing activities at all. Local fire-fighting authorities hoped that rain would help to stop the fire. Instead, the appropriated money was embezzled. Nobody expected that nature was so deceptive: we were waiting for rains in vain, and small heat sources turned into vast territories of flame. So, there is direct evidence of crime: the embezzlement brought the hardest consequences. Several villages have completely burnt down, and many regions are currently suffering from economic and environmental damage.

The air in Moscow is difficult to breath: the strong smell of burning doesn’t fade day and night in several districts of Moscow. The smoke from forest fires is mixed with the exhaust of cars, which makes the situation even more dangerous. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and Governor of the Moscow region Boris Gromov are working hard to make the region especially attractive for foreign investors. However, they at the same time care little about the fact that Moscow's transportation is already out of date and not equipped with filters and afterburners for detrimental discharges. They prefer to build luxurious commercial centers to improving environment in the Russian capital.

The recent forest fires came in handy not only for officials who embezzled the money, but also for construction companies, which received new orders for construction after the forest fires. It has become a sad practice that officials give instructions to deforest even natural reserves and picturesque zones to construct cottages for themselves on these areas. It is quite natural that these people didn’t change their practices even during the forest fires. Therefore, it is really very difficult to find out under these conditions whether the forest fires were natural or arson.

In other words, somebody’s mercantile interests can certainly be discovered behind the recent forest fires. And, probably, when the Prosecutor’s Office looks into the situation closer, many interesting details will come up.

It is not ruled out that separate people decided to set the forests on fire. And what is more, people’s negligence of camp fires could also be one of the causes of the large-scale forest fires.

The forest fires mirror the situation in the whole country: Russia is suffering from embezzlement and criminal chaos. People’s souls are seriously hurt in everyday life, which is a really problem for people now.

When the first rains started in the middle of September, the fires began declining in the Moscow region. People hope that the situation is going to improve. However, specialists say that problems are not over yet. In fact, Russia is currently threatened with a greater danger than ever before.

Alarming news was reported from the Bryansk region. Forests and peatbogs that became radioactive after the Chernobyl tragedy in 1986 are currently on fire. The areas are full of radionuclids, which increase their concentration hundred times when being burnt! The fires are spreading to larger contaminated areas, but there are no resources to fight this disaster. Fire-fighting and fire-preventing facilities are very poor in the region. The whole of the city of Bryansk is covered with smoke, but its citizens are unaware to what extent caesium and plutonium vapors are dangerous. The smoke can reach great heights, and the wind can spread the radioactive dust hundreds of kilometers. What will happen if this smoke reaches Western Europe?

The situation resembles another Chernobyl tragedy, which currently threatens not only Bryansk and Russia, but many other countries as well. It is strange that the authorities ignore this dangerous situation.

Mikhail Antonov

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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