Death rate doubles in Moscow as heatwave continues
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Texts for translation
Death rate doubles in Moscow as heatwave continues
Moscow's health chief has confirmed the mortality rate has doubled as a heatwave and wildfire smog continue to grip the Russian capital.
There were twice the usual number of bodies in the city's morgues, Andrei Seltsovsky told reporters.
Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared around a nuclear reprocessing plant in the southern Urals because of nearby wildfires.
Ozersk was the site of Russia's worst nuclear disaster in 1957.
Some of the land around the Mayak plant in the town (known in Soviet times as Chelyabinsk-40) is believed to be still contaminated from the disaster, in which a tank of radioactive waste exploded.
Several leaks of radioactive waste have been reported from the plant in recent years.
Ozersk's administration announced on the town's website that residents were forbidden from entering the region's abundant, picturesque woodlands until further notice, and ordered urgent, unspecified fire safety measures.
Recent death rates for parts of central Russia other than Moscow, which have had similar droughts and wildfires for more than a month, have not been released.
Soon after Mr Seltsovsky gave his information, Russia's Health Minister, Tatyana Golikova, demanded a formal clarification of his data.
Her ministry said it was "puzzled by the unofficial figures quoted at the briefing".
Mr Seltsovsky did not give a timeframe but earlier reports had spoken of the death rate in Moscow for July rising by up to 50% compared with the same period last year.
"On normal days, between 360 and 380 die - now it's around 700," Mr Seltsovsky told reporters.
Moscow, he said, had 1,500 places in its morgues and 1,300 of these were currently occupied.
While stressing there was still capacity, he added that about 30% of bereaved people were asking to have the body kept in a morgue for more than three days, "which slightly complicates the situation".
The concentration of carbon monoxide in Moscow was still more than double acceptable safety norms on Monday as smog from peat and forest wildfires continued to blanket the city.
Temperatures of more than 35C (95F) are forecast for the city until Thursday.
How peat bog fires spread
1. Peat is formed from decayed vegetation in bogs, moors or swamps.
2. Deliberate drainage or drought can expose peat to air.
3. Peat can then be ignited by wildfires or spontaneously combust. The air flow allows the peat to continue burning.
4. Once alight, the smouldering fire spreads slowly through the peat and can cause the ground above to collapse.
Doctors under pressure
Since the second half of July, at least 52 deaths in Russia as a whole have been attributed directly to fires, which have destroyed hundreds of rural homes.
Mr Seltsovsky did not attribute the rise in the mortality rate to the heatwave or smog.
But doctors, speaking off the record, have talked of morgues filling with victims of heat stroke and smoke ailments.
Reuters news agency reported on Sunday that one Moscow doctor had written on his anonymous blog - since deleted - of the stench from bodies piling up in the basement of his clinic where the fridges were full.
"[But] we can't give that diagnosis [of heat stroke and smoke ailments] - we don't want to be sacked," the blogger wrote.
"We have families to feed."
Another doctor at a major hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that staff had been instructed by senior management not to link patients' illnesses to the heatwave.
A spokeswoman for the Moscow city government declined to comment on the doctors' claims, the agency adds.
The head of thestate weather service, Alexander Frolov, said on Monday that the heatwave of 2010 was the worst in 1,000 years of recorded Russian history.
"It's an absolutely unique phenomenon - nothing like it can be seen in the archives," he was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
Fighting the heat
According to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, Moscow airports were working normally on Monday after last week's disruptions due to smog.
Sunday saw more than 104,000 air travellers leaving the capital - a record number, according to Russian news agencies.
Those who remain in the city of 10.5 million were being urged to wear face masks if they ventured outdoors, and to hang wet towels indoors to attract dust and cool the airflow.
Most apartments in the city lack air conditioning and there are media reports of wealthier citizens moving out of their homes into hotels, shopping malls, offices and private cars.
As of Monday morning, 557 wildfires continued to burn in Russia, 25 of them peat fires, the emergencies ministry said.
While 239 fires were extinguished on Sunday, 247 new ones were discovered.
Translate the text paying attention to the following words and phrases:
state of emergency
nuclear reprocessing plant
a tank of radioactive waste
unspecified fire safety measures
was still more than double acceptable safety norms
have been attributed directly to fires
speaking off the record
speaking on condition of anonymity
state weather service
the head of the emergencies ministry
Analysis: Do economic sanctions work?
By Jonathan Marcus BBC diplomatic correspondent
Do economic sanctions work? Past experience provides little hard evidence to go on.
Professor Adam Roberts is a research fellow at Oxford University - one of the great British figures in the study of international relations.
"There are very few cases where you can definitely identify sanctions as having had a success, except sometimes in combination with other factors," he says.
"Arguably they contributed something to the change in white minority Rhodesia that led to black majority rule; arguably the sanctions against South Africa were one factor that contributed to change there."
But, he insists, sanctions were only one factor among many, including guerrilla opposition in the country itself.
"So", he concludes, "it is impossible to say in either of these cases that sanctions were the decisive factor."
In July 2010 President Barack Obama signed into law a series of tougher bilateral sanctions against Iran.
These were intended to turn the screw on Tehran and to bolster existing United Nations Security Council sanctions.
The hope was that the mix of UN and bilateral sanctions - tougher measures are already being planned by the European Union - would persuade Iran to change its mind and halt its uranium enrichment programme.
So far they don't seem to be working.
Nonetheless, since the end of the Cold War sanctions have been used much more frequently as a tool of international diplomacy.
Veteran diplomat Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the UN between 1998 and 2003, says the fundamental reason for the popularity of sanctions is "that there is nothing else between words and military action if you want to bring pressure upon a government".
"Military action is increasingly unpopular and in many ways ineffective in a modern legitimacy-oriented world, and words don't work with hard regimes. So something in between these is necessary. What else is there?" he asks.
Sanctions are all very well, but if they are to work they must be universally applied.
And as Nicholas Burns, the most senior professional US diplomat in the Bush Administration says, as far as Iran is concerned this is just not happening.
· Prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles
· Carry out inspections of cargo shipments to and from Iran including seaports and airports
· Block financial transactions and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they suspect a link to nuclear activities
· Target a number of individuals - including senior nuclear officials - and companies with asset freezes and travel bans
"Many countries are effectively ignoring them or, like China, undercutting them," he says.
Indeed he argues that China has become the largest trading partner with Iran since these UN sanctions have come into effect.
"They are a very difficult and sensitive policy instrument", he concludes and, echoing Adam Roberts' view, he says "there are very few examples looking back over the last 25 to 30 years where sanctions have actually succeeded".
In many ways sanctions also have a poor track record in terms of their impact upon a country's economy.
They have tended to hit home against the ordinary people - the ruled - rather than against the rulers who are often the real target for pressure.
The experience in Iraq during the 1990s is a case in point.
The air attacks in the US-led war to liberate Kuwait hit Iraq's infrastructure hard.
They exacerbated an already difficult situation caused by the imposition of sanctions.
Professor Joy Gordon, of the Global Justice Programme at Yale University, has just written a new study on the impact of these sanctions.
The combination of the bombing strikes and the sanctions were devastating, she says.
"Iraq had the wealth to rebuild," she says, "but the devastation of the infrastructure and then the almost total cut-off of exports and imports, meant that Iraq was - in the words of a UN envoy - reduced to a pre-industrial state and then was kept, more or less, close to that condition for over a decade after."
The debates on how many perished, especially children, continue to this day.
She argues in her book that the best estimate of excess child mortality - the number of children under five who died during the sanctions who would not have perished had pre-war and pre-sanctions conditions continued - is between 670,000 and 880,000.
Adam Roberts says that the figure may be significantly lower.
But there was hardship and suffering and he has no doubt about the lesson of the Iraq experience.
"Very often it is the case that the first people to suffer from sanctions are the population generally and the powerful people - the people in the regime - can find ways of getting around sanctions," he adds.
The disproportionate damage to Iraq's civilian population encouraged policy-makers to think again about sanctions and how they are applied.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock says that the whole Iraq episode underscored the fact that economic sanctions are not a tool that works quickly.
"They take a long time. Therefore we want to try to devise an instrument that gets through to the decision-makers at a sharper pace than just the collapse of the total economy, from which too many people suffer."
Thus were born "smart" or "targeted" sanctions, aimed against the rulers rather than the ruled.
But is there enough clarity as to what these smart sanctions against Iran are really for?
Were they seeking to change the Iranian government's behaviour on the nuclear issue? Were they about isolating Iran? Or was the idea, perhaps, to change the regime in Tehran altogether?
In response Sir Jeremy Greenstock says: "Well perhaps all of those things", before going on to acknowledge that sanctions are still a blunt instrument.
"The bluntness is excused to some extent because there is no other instrument but we have to recognise that there are all sorts of unintended consequences and we have to try to mend those as we go along, if we insist upon using sanctions in the first place."
Sanctions can also have another down side.
They can provoke a defensive reaction on the part of the target country and its population.
Adam Roberts says some have called this the "Battle of Britain" effect; a reference to the days in 1940 when Britain stood alone against everything the German Luftwaffe could throw at it.
"The problem is how to prevent these sanctions from leading to very strong nationalist resentment in Iran itself. When Iran was attacked by Iraq in 1980, the international community did not come to its aid. It did not sanction the attacker, Iraq - and that's remembered in Iran."
"In the Iranian regime's official pronouncements there is a sense that only we can look after ourselves," he says.
"And in these circumstances it's a very difficult task to gauge the sanctions correctly so that they don't exacerbate the problem that they are designed to address."
All in all then, sanctions appear a problematic tool at best.
Maybe they work, to an extent, but only in concert with other measures.
Carrots may be equally as important as sticks.
It's by no means clear that smart sanctions are necessarily any smarter.
Indeed they may take even longer to work and over time they may still involve considerable damage to a country's wider economy.
Nonetheless in a limited diplomatic armoury, between words and warfare, there may indeed be little else.
Translate the text paying attention to the following words and phrases:
provides little hard evidence
contributed something to the change
to turn the screw on
to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
senior professional US diplomat
attack helicopters and missiles
senior nuclear officials
have a poor track record
cut-off of exports and imports
reduced to a pre-industrial state
to get around sanctions
have another down side
in concert with
Carrots may be equally as important as sticks
Japanese firms push into emerging markets