It is very convenient to blame global warming. President Medvedev's statement about the planet being in danger was another gross joke. So every time there's a heatwave, millions of hectares should be burnt because of global warming. The fact that the agency which observed forests and forest fires was downsized, the lack of a strong and efficient fire department, the 2007 Forest Code which placed the responsibility for defending forestlands on those who had the rights to use them (use the forests? that reminds me of home), the terrible and fatal delay in sending troops to help firefighters etc etc, no, these did not play any role in the murder of the beautiful Russian countryside, the death of more than 50 people and the destruction of thousands of homes and fields.
I experienced forest fires last year. They burnt all the 400,000,000 square metres around -fortunately not our small village; OK, just a part of it, perhaps... In 2007 we experienced the worst fires ever with 2,000,000,000 square metres burnt in different areas in the country and 75 people dead. It was all due to bad planning, bad laws, negligence and delayed reaction. I will never forget that summer and I will never forget that indescribable shock when late one evening on 22nd (or 23rd) August 2007 my favourite detective series was interrupted because of a special news programme. It was an uncontrollable fire burning in the area where most of my kin comes from. I felt so heartbroken, started crying and couldn't help myself from doing so for a week -well, I didn't really count the days... I was crying in the car, at work, when waking up. I was mourning. I felt so angry, so much hurt, so helpless and again so angry. I could never imagine of course that 2 years later, that same disaster would knock on our door, making us the people in the blazing scenes others watched on TV.
Every day I drive through burnt forests. I have been doing that since August 2009 and there hasn't been one single day I do not think of what happened last year. It is like looking at a barren land; it is a barren land. Oh, I do feel so angry. Everyone has forgotten. It's like all those disasters never happened. It's like all those people never died, trapped in the flames. And the state, as usual, is absent in all its glory.
The 2007 fires almost burnt ancient Olympia, the place where the Olympic flame always starts its journey from every 4 years. You might have heard about it.

So, to sum up, the fires in Russia were a result of global warming -or global warning?- and we are all very happy with this version. Isn't this right, Mr Putin?

(Update: Just seen the fires in Portugal. It was too much to ask for a quiet summer.)

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Aug 11, 2010