Contoversy blazes over Putin's rebuilding webcams

13th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A controversy erupted Friday over a scheme for web cameras to monitor Russia's reconstruction effort from wildfires after a ministry complained that they showed only pictures of fields.

The scheme has been masterminded by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who has ordered that the cameras broadcast into his office, home and on his own website.

Deputy Regional Development Minister Konstantin Korolevsky said that he had ordered that the cameras be "pointed at where work is actually going on and not simply at the field opposite these objects".

He said that from the pictures so far had it was "not always clear if work is actually going on and it's not always clear that they (the works) correspond to the plan", Interfax reported.

However the communications ministry, responsible for the installation of the cameras, spat back that the only problem was that their experts had installed the cameras faster than the regional development ministry could start any work.

"The telecoms experts have carried out their work much quicker than the time it took the regional development ministry to start reconstruction work," ministry official told the ITAR-TASS news agency.

"All the cameras will be pointed at the building sites once work actually starts," the official added.

The scheme -- part of a major effort by Putin to show the authorities have the wildfire crisis under control -- has so far not been a rousing success.

The images from around 30 villages so far show only still pictures rather than videos and the site does not appear to be properly functioning.

Some of the images show obvious reconstruction sites but others merely show peaceful country lanes or fields with no obvious reconstruction in sight.

Among the villages being monitored is Verkhnyaya Vereya which was destroyed in the fires and then visited by Putin, where he received unusual heckling from disgruntled villagers.

The images are viewable on Putin's website at:

© 2010 AFP

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