On November 23rd, Russia’s Far East began an emergency situation, after a freak ice storm left Vladivostok and the wider Primoriye region ravaged.
The storm left the city and large parts of the region without electricity for several days and it is linked to climate change, according to experts.
The storm brought down trees and power lines and covered outdoor surfaces in thick ice, prompting a regional state of emergency. The weather phenomenon 6,500 kilometers east of Moscow follows an abnormally mild and snowless winter in 2019 that scientists also attributed to climate change.
The snow and ice storm in Vladivostok was “a direct result of climate change,” Roman Pukalov, director of environmental programs at the Green Patrol NGO said.
“This is a direct result of exceptionally warm temperatures in the Primorye region this fall” where thermostats usually hit zero degrees Celsius in early October, Pukalov said. “Temperatures only just dropped below zero and brought this freezing rain with them.”
Russian climate activist Arshak Makichyan described the storm and its consequences as the result of Russia’s climate crisis, citing a Vladivostok-based activist as saying that thick ice covered every exposed surface due to temperature fluctuations.
“You can’t attribute a single weather event to a single specific cause,” said Sergei Semenov, scientific supervisor at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Federal Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Service’s Institute of Global Climate and Ecology.
“Especially to climate change, since climate by definition is average weather over decades,” Semenov said.
“The situation with the electricity supply remains very difficult — the destruction is widespread,” the regional administration’s deputy head Elena Parkhamenko said.
She said it could take “several days” to restore power.
Almost 40 diesel generators were delivered to Vladivostok in the last three days to supply electricity to socially important facilities that were left without power in the Primorsky Territory as a result of the impact of a powerful cyclone, an emergency services representative said.
“37 diesel generators were delivered to Vladivostok from November 22 to November 24,” the source said.
Power supply to Vladivostok, which was disrupted a few days ago due to a snow cyclone, has been fully restored, the RusHydro press service reported on November 25th.
“Today, the specialists of the Far Eastern Distribution Grid Company (DRSK) have energized the restored 110 kV line, which provides power supply to the Pervomaisky District of Vladivostok. Thus, the electricity supply has been restored to all districts of the capital of the Primorsky Territory,” the message said.
It is interesting to note that in these complicated conditions, the region has become a target of a destabilization campaign through social media. As a result, some of those the Internet succumbed to a panic. At least three different audio messages were massively distributed via messengers and social media. The fake messages insisted that authorities were planning to disconnect the entire region from electricity altogether on November 24. This did not happen. The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Vladivostok is searching sources of fake messages.
Destabilization propaganda and coordinated campaigns in social media always accompany natural hazards and other tragic events in Russia. Most of them have a similar structure: First, some anonymous sources disseminate fake news (about casualties, actions of the government, general impact of events etc) in social media. Then, Russian pro-opposition media use these social media reports as an ‘evidence from the ground’ to push the same narrative. And finally, Western mainstream media outlets cite Russian opposition media to increase this campaign to the international level and blame the Kremlin for its supposed misconduct that ‘led to numerous casualties’ and ‘dramatic destructions’. Nobody will be surprised if, soon, CNN will blame Putin for the events in Vladivostok.
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