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Simon Shuster thinks the wildfires crippling Moscow could spell political trouble for Vladmir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev:

According to opinion polls, however, the Russian public is not nearly so eager to pat its leaders on the back. In the last two weeks of July, state-run pollster VTsIOM reported that approval ratings for both Putin and Luzhkov had fallen to their lowest levels in more than four years, while Medvedev's numbers were at one of their lowest points since he took office in May 2008. At the same time, more Russians have started clamoring for the return of gubernatorial elections, which Putin canceled in 2004 when he handed the Kremlin the right to appoint regional leaders. In a survey released August 6 by the independent Levada Center, 59% of Russians now want to choose their own governors again, up by 5% since January.

But Michael Stott says that Russia's media manipulation will be able to overcome any short-term damage done:

Popular apathy, control over the media and a lack of potent opposition will ensure that Moscow's ruling duo do not suffer seriously from disastrous summer fires as president George W. Bush did from his administration's slow response to catastrophe.

Although a record-breaking summer heatwave found Russia's authorities ill-prepared to fight the fires and slow to react to the smoke pollution that has crippled Moscow, analysts said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev would ensure that others took the blame.

Sounds like business as usual for a politico.

Personally I think the most absurd vignette of the entire Moscow fire was undoubtedly this, from Shuster:

But perhaps the most blatant attempts to downplay the disaster have come from the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov. As the fires around his city choked the skies with smoke last week, Luzhkov was away on holiday. "What's the problem? What, do we have some kind of emergency situation, some kind of crisis situation? What's the problem in Moscow?" the mayor's spokesman told the LifeNews agency on August 6. Three days later, LifeNews reported that Luzhkov, an avid beekeeper, had ordered his prize-winning hives to be evacuated away from the smog. All the while, he has refused to declare a state of emergency for Moscow's human inhabitants.

(AP Photo)