Moscow, Russia: The head of a Siberian region said he was penalized on Tuesday for holding a BBQ and breaking restrictions put in place by his administration to avoid forest fires.
Massive fires have been raging over Russia, the world’s largest country by landmass, in recent years, affecting Siberia, the Arctic, and the Far East in particular.
Low rainfall and extreme heatwaves, both connected to climate change, exacerbate the problem.
“The emergencies ministry fined me for lighting a fire. And there’s nothing I can say, they are right,” Alexei Tsydenov, the acting head of the Republic of Buryatia, wrote on Instagram.
He also shared a photo of the BBQ as well as a written 3,000 ruble ($41) fine.
Officials in the mountainous region on Lake Baikal’s coast have reported at least 78 fires spanning more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in recent months, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
It claimed that law enforcement had imposed more than 1,200 fines totaling more than 2 million rubles ($27,500) for fire safety offenses.
Last year, blazes devastated woods covering more than 9.1 million hectares, an area almost the size of Portugal, according to Russia’s state forest service.
Greenpeace, an international environmental advocacy group, claims that the figures are conservative and do not account for other sorts of fires, such as those in the tundra.
Fires rage over Russia every summer, releasing massive plumes of toxic smoke that suffocate towns and cities hundreds of kilometers distant.