Saturday, December 05, 2009

I am reading a wonderful book called 'Imperium' (Ryszard Kapuscinski) - an account of the author's travels around the old Russian empire.

He writes about a visit to Ufa, a city in the grip of a massive ecological disaster.

It involves the chemical phenol, which has catastrophically contaminated the water supply.
He describes with extraordinary vividness the queues that form of people waiting in line for water.

In the book we never know if these people, whom he writes about with such humanity and compassion, ever receive the water they require.

Or how many die, or what happens to the city, or whether it ever gets cleaned up.

This seems to have happened between 1989 and 1991, but i have no memory of it. Wikipedia tells me Ufa really exists, and is a big city. Over a million people. Ufa's football club is FC Bashinformsvyaz-Dynamo Ufa play in the Russian Second Division. The city ice hockey club Salavat Yulaev Ufa play in the Kontinental Hockey league (KHL) and were five-time champions of the Russian Major League. The Ural Volleyball club are also based in Ufa.

.. which is of course indispensable. It tells me it is twinned with Ankara, Halle, Las Pinas,Paldiski and Orenberg.

The next site in Google tells me there are thousands of beautiful and willing women there eager to become western brides.

But there is no mention of this disaster anywhere.

This must be one of the myriads of appalling events that get their brief spotlight before media attention focuses elsewhere more important, like Katie Price's marriage, or someone's fashion disaster at a premiere.

There are pictures of Bhopal just now. It's the anniversary of hat disaster. The people who were poisoned have never received adequate compensation; those responsible for their suffering have never been brought to justice; the site has never been properly secured and still leaks poison out into the surrounding countryside.

That is one thing both these economic systems have in common: an utter and appalling disregard for humanity.

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