Even Russia’s Wildfires Provide Tinder for Political Jibes

However incredible it may seem, there are people who are using Russia’s wildfires – all 600 of them – to try to provide tinder to fuel the flames of politics. Such is the case in the amazingly derogatory article by political analyst Yulia Latyina in the Moscow Times, “Putin Sang Songs While Russia Burned”.

The notion that Russia’s Prime Minister sat idly by while his country burned is as absurd as it is trying to provide a negative image to sell Russia down the drain, using a natural catastrophe to score (low) political points. Politics may be dirty, but as regards how far below the belt it can get, this piece takes the biscuit.

The very title of the piece seems to be planting the idea that Vladimir Putin would sit watching his country burn like Nero was supposed to do, playing the fiddle while Rome burnt. Then right from the first paragraph, an attack on Russia’s emergency services, stating that only one fire-fighter has died in Russia this year, while eleven died in Spain in 2005 and nine in Colorado in 2002.

Far from claiming that perhaps Russia’s fire-fighters approach fires of a different nature to those in Spain and Colorado and perhaps take less risks, the author claims “In developed countries, citizens don’t perish in fires. Fire-fighters perish”. So the more developed the country, the more fire-fighters perish, is that the (twisted) logic?

Yulia Latyina then goes on to compare Russia to Zambia or Zimbabwe, she compares earthquakes with forest fires, claims the magnitude of the earthquake is less significant than the response, claims “people don’t die this way in Europe or the United States” and then the cherry on the cake: “…there is really only one bureaucrat who is responsible for this tragedy. Putin himself”.

We can see clearly that The Moscow Times is not a Russian newspaper; it is an anti-Russian newspaper, if indeed it deserves to be called such. Frankly, after reading these lines in a nonsensical piece of the lowest type of anti-government propaganda, I would not even consign this rag to the bathroom floor.

Even the normally Russophobic BBC treats this story with the objectivity it deserves: the sheer magnitude of the statistics shine through the reporting by BBC journalist Richard Galpin and say all: 50 lives lost and 3,500 homeless, seven regions in a state of emergency, 14 regions affected, 589 fires raging across the country, 196,000 ha or 484,326 acres burnt, 160,000 fire-fighters deployed. 20% of the grain crop destroyed.

Suppose The Moscow Times and Ms. Yulia Latyina considered that what was responsible for the fires is the abnormally hot Summer in Russia, ten to fifteen degrees above the historic average for the time, the vastness of the country and the near impossibility to defend all areas at the same time…

Far from sit back and play music, Russia’s Prime Minister has spent the last days rushing from place to place, organizing, chiding those who were lax, cancelling leave, praising those who acted swiftly and bravely and proving himself master of the situation. This is reporting, not propaganda and cheap political diatribes trying to score points at the expense of others.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey