August a cursed month for Russia

4th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

From forest fires, coups and financial crises to war and disasters, August is traditionally a cursed month for Russians, marked by dramatic events for their country.

This August has been no exception, with deadly forest fires ravaging tens of thousands of hectares in the western part of the country, killing 48 in regions which have lived through an unprecedented heatwave since early July.

Here are some previous events in August which have marked Russia:

- August 17, 2009: A sudden flood at Russia's largest hydroelectric facility, the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in the Khakassia region, kills 75.

On the same day the Russian navy boards, off Cape Verde, the Arctic Sea cargo ship which had mysteriously disappeared three weeks earlier between the Baltic and the Atlantic.

There are also four suicide attacks in the Russian Caucasus during the month.

- August 8, 2008: Georgia launches a military offensive against its separatist pro-Russian province of South Ossetia and Russia responds by sending massive numbers of troops to Georgia. Moscow then recognises the independence of South Ossetia and that of the province of Abkhazia.

- August 24, 2004: Two attacks on Russian aircraft kill 90 and come just ahead of the bloody hostage-taking in Beslan by pro-Chechen commandos in early September, in which more than 330 die.

- August 8, 2002: 60 die in violent rainfall on Russia's Black Sea coast, amid storms in several European countries.

- August 27, 2000: The Ostankino telecommunications tower in northern Moscow, Russia's voice to the world and the tallest free-standing structure in Europe, is severely damaged in a fire.

- August 12, 2000: The nuclear submarine Kursk sinks in the Barents Sea with 118 crew, who all perished in Russia's worst naval disaster.

- August 8, 2000: A blast in a busy underpass on Moscow's Pushkin square kills 13 people and wounds 120 others.

- August, 1999: Chechen rebels begin a series of attacks on neighbouring Dagestan which leads to the Russians' return to Chechnya in October.

- August 17, 1998: A financial crash erupts leading to a massive ruble devaluation, with tens of thousands of savers and dozens of banks ruined.

- August 19-21, 1991: A failed putsch seals the fate of the Soviet Union, stripping its leader Mikhail Gorbachev of real power and setting his nemesis, the recently elected Russian president Boris Yeltsin, firmly on the road to the Kremlin. This leads to the Soviet Union collapsing in December.

© 2010 AFP

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