Radiation risks from Russian wildfires have been blown out of proportion say scientists assessing the danger from burning forests on land polluted by the Chernobyl disaster.
The claims come as fires rage in the Bryansk region – tainted by radioactive dust from the 1986 nuclear reactor explosion.
Tamara Dubrovina, Head of the Russia’s Regional Environment Monitoring and Meteorological Centre said: “It is hard for me to say why everyone is so concerned. They’ve been calling me non-stop from Moscow’s Central Meteorological agency… but there is nothing to worry about. The radiation level remains as it was, it didn’t increase even by one micro Rontgen per hour.”
The “low-risk” assertions are backed by scientists in Britain, France and Germany.
But for many Russians the “negligible” health risk claims are of little comfort.
The fires have razed homes and even entire villages to the ground.
In Moscow protesters calling for the resignation of the capital’s mayor were quickly bundled off the streets.
Demonstrators said the authorities have done too little too late and condemned Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s decision to holiday in Europe for a week as Muscovites choked in toxic smog from the surrounding countryside.