Support The Moscow Times!

Wildfire-Ravaged Siberian Region Says ‘Nyet’ to DiCaprio’s Aid Offer

Leonardo DiCaprio previously raised awareness of Siberian and Far East wildfires in 2019. Charles Sykes / Invision / AP / TASS

Authorities in Russia’s largest and coldest region have politely declined Hollywood actor and environmental activist Leonard DiCaprio’s offer to help with its fast-spreading wildfires.

Russia’s Far East republic of Sakha, known by its former name of Yakutia, has been ravaged by wildfires since the start of the fire season, with forests the size of Latvia destroyed and areas the size of Qatar still burning. 

Authorities declared a regionwide emergency more than two weeks ago, with thousands of firefighting personnel deployed, while local activist Roza Dyachkovskaya mounted a mass hashtag campaign on DiCaprio’s Instagram page to raise awareness toward Yakutia’s plight.

“I have heard you and I and my management will look into it,” DiCaprio said in an Instagram message, according to a screenshot shared Monday by Dyachkovskaya. “Then we will talk with the authorities in charge to see how we can be of help.”

But senior environmental officials in the region more than 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow maintained that its own firefighting efforts were sufficient.

“We’re glad of course that global stars are paying attention to these situations,” Sakha’s deputy minister for the environment, natural resource management and forestry Sergei Sivtsev told Russia’s 5 news broadcaster.

“But our forces are engaged in extinguishing [the wildfires] in our republic and the situation is under control,” Sivtsev was quoted as saying.

DiCaprio previously raised awareness of Siberian and Far East wildfires in 2019 and his foundation expressed concerns with extremely low temperatures in the Sakha town of Oymyakon, nicknamed the “Cold Pole” for being one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth.

With temperatures up to 4.5 degrees Celsius warmer than expected, The Siberian Times reported that Sakha — like several other regions of Russia — saw the hottest June in its recorded history.

Almost 350 wildfires are currently active in the republic of Sakha, more than half of the 550 wildfires reported to be raging across all of Russia.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more