MOSCOW (AFP) - The fabled beauty of the Kremlin's golden onion domes dusted with winter snow may be a thing of the past under a scheme by the Moscow mayor, reported by newspapers Thursday, to banish snow from the capital.
"Why don't we keep this snow outside the Moscow city limits?" the Izvestia and Gazeta dailies quoted Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has a well-established track record of micro-managing Moscow's weather, as saying this week.
"For the countryside, this means more moisture and bigger harvests. And for us -- less snow," Luzhkov said, recalling that Moscow already relies on special cloud-seeding techniques to guarantee clear skies on key holidays.
Under Luzhkov's proposal, the skies would be cleared whenever snow-laden clouds -- a regular and natural feature of the Moscow winter cityscape -- approached the sprawling Russian metropolis.
The mayor said preventing snowfall in Moscow would offer advantages to city residents, including significant cost savings since operations to clear snow from streets cost three times more than stopping snowfall altogether.
Cloud-sweeping operations over Moscow however often produce heavy precipitation in outlying areas, and experts said the plan was fraught with unpredictable consequences.
Izvestia said the Luzhkov winter weather initiative had sparked "panic" in some areas outside the Russian capital.
"On those holidays when they clear the clouds over Moscow the surplus precipitation becomes a problems for us," Gazeta quoted Vladimir Litvishkov, a suburban land management official, as saying of the Luzhkov plan