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As Russia wildfires rage, Putin shows strength, Medvedev tweets

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Dozens killed, crops ruined

As of Tuesday, the government said 529 major blazes were raging across central Russia, including what the official meteorological service described as a "fiery ring" of 90 suburban peat bog fires encircling Moscow, which has left the capital city choking in a thick – and hazardous – haze of smoke.

Uncontrollable grass, brush, and forest fires have swept through Russia's heartland, killing at least 40 people, leaving thousands homeless, and hitting the bone-dry grassy steppes of the Volga region especially hard. For more than a month, European Russia has been experiencing daily temperatures that are 10 to 15 degrees C above the historic average of about 23 degrees C (73.4 degrees F.). for this time of year. Most of central Russia has received far less than a third of normal rainfall during the same period.

The worst drought in half a century has already ruined at least 20 percent of Russia's grain crop, which means the crisis is likely to keep on delivering misery to Russians – in the form of soaring food prices – through the coming winter.

According to the meteorological service, temperatures will continue to spike up to 40 degrees C (104 degrees F.) over the coming week, though there could be some respite in the form of desperately needed thunder showers. Promises of precipitation over recent weeks have yielded only a few light smatterings of actual rain.

Putin takes center stage

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