MOSCOW – For over a month, Moscow has been boiling in 40-degree (100 degrees Fahrenheit) heat and heavy, sticky, eye-burning smog. Carbon monoxide levels have reached crisis levels, at six times the maximum allowable concentration. Other toxic substances in Moscow’s air are at nine times the normal level.
In early August, a journalist called the office of Moscow's mayor, seeking comments on the situation. “The office is closed,” a woman at the press office answered, adding that smog had gotten inside the mayoral building, which is located less than two miles from the Kremlin, so everyone was ordered to go home. This was a weekday, shortly after lunch. “Is it at all possible to get a comment from Mayor Yuri Luzhkov?” the reporter asked. “He is not in Moscow,” the woman replied.