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.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.