Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Russians fighting fires discover self-reliance

JOTMAN.COM contributor Sanjuro, having surveyed various Russian language media sources, updates us on the fire situation in Russia:
There are some improvements. More forest fires have been out out (especially around Moscow), but peat moors are still mostly burning - they are notoriously hard to fight, some peats can burn for months and even years. There's still smog over Moscow, at least until Wednesday, people are trying to refrain from activities. There's great public outrage over Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov who until before yesterday was refusing to return to town, claiming there was "nothing extraordinary". Luzhkov is a very significant figure in the Pantheon of the Russian corruption - the unsinkable mayor of the capital city, his wife Yelena Baturina is one of the richest women in the world (her company Inteco gets most lucrative construction contracts in and around Moscow).

The situation in the provinces is still difficult. Scores of volunteers helping fireghters, with inadequate equipment and little results. Private individuals, like blogger Igor Cherski that I mentioned, seem to be doing more than the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Russian analogue of FEMA, even more corrupt and useless. People donate money, buy equipment and supplies and bring them to fire sites to volunteers using their own vehicles - and many begin to realize they probably don't need a government so inefficient. People donate stuff to survivors using online networks - this is the first large scale grassroot activity that covers a great part of Russia.

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