Chelyabinsk is not Russia’s dirtiest city — the spot has been occupied by Norilsk since 1992 — but it ranked in the top 10 last year, the State Statistics Service said in June. The city, which has a population of 1.1 million, hosts many industrial facilities, including a metallurgical plant and a ferroalloys factory.And so:
Chelyabinsk authorities launched last week a state tender worth 300,000 rubles ($10,700) to “optimize” Yandex and Google queries using 15 search phrases, including “radiation in Chelyabinsk,” “dirtiest city in Russia” and “ecology of the Urals.”UPDATE FOR THE SAKE OF PROOF:
Whistleblower Alexei Navalny, who reported the story on his blog Thursday, called the tender “disgusting and immoral” and dubbed Chelyabinsk Governor Mikhail Yurevich a “proactive idiot.” The governor announced a campaign to change the region’s public image last September.
But a spokeswoman for the regional government, Svetlana Doronina, called reports about the region’s pollution “horror stories” spread by “radical environmental activists” in the pay of foreign competitors of the local industry, Chelyabinsk.ru reported. She did not name any names.