Russia’s ongoing heat wave may have taken a turn for the worst. The fires, which have blazed on the edges of capital city Moscow for the better part of two weeks, have approached a secret nuclear research centre, inspiring panic amongst city residents and prompting embassies to advise against travel to the Russian capital. Moscow is currently engulfed in smoke and hazardous dust.
The warning comes at a bad time for the Russian economy, which is already fighting the effects of one of the worst agricultural crises in recent history. With output levels at an all-time low and most exports suspended, the country’s economy may soon weather its worse season yet. Although Russia is not a major centre for tourism in Europe, the declaration will certainly hurt Moscow’s economy.
Environmental groups have claimed that air chemical levels recorded in Moscow just one week ago were almost seven times higher than those recommended by the country’s Ministry of Health. Other observers have pointed to the existence of a secret nuclear facility as evidence that the government is uninterested in safety, quoting the previous Chernobyl disaster as a worst case scenario.
The country’s ongoing fires appear to be on the way out, however, as authorities claim to have taken control of the major blazes. Air quality within the capital remains poor, with most residents appalled at the sudden increase in air toxicity caused by the blaze. While most of the damage is due to forest fires, Russian environmental groups have pointed to government chemical use as a major problem.
It could be months before Moscow’s tourists return, but for the meantime those within the capital are positive that things will soon go back to normal. The city’s thick layer of smog is beginning to clear, providing much needed hope that the city’s streets will once again fill up with people.