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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Forecasters Balk at Helping Luzhkov

The rift between Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and weather forecasters may be deepening. Meteorologists who can seed the clouds said Tuesday that they have no plans of helping City Hall keep its promise to secure good weather for the World Youth Games.

The mayor's press office announced Tuesday that an agreement was signed between the city government and the Central Aerologic Observatory to run a cloud-seeding operation during the games being held in Moscow from July 11 to July 19. The city government has allocated 2.5 million rubles ($400,000) to provide sunny weather for the sports competitions, Interfax said.

However, officials at the State Meteorological Center, or Rosgidromet, said no such agreement was signed with the observatory or any of its other departments.

Anatoly Yakovlev, the spokesman for Rosgidromet, said although the subject was once discussed, Tuesday's announcement came as a surprise. In any case, he said, there was not enough time left to prepare for such an operation.

"It may well be Luzhkov's desire to seed the clouds, but it has little to do with us," Yakovlev said.

Rosgidromet is the only organization in Russia equipped and trained for cloud seeding, which has become a trademark of the mass celebrations hosted by Luzhkov. It was done most recently for Moscow's 850th anniversary last September.

Since then, the relationship between the meteorological service and the Moscow mayor has become rather clouded, with the mayor blaming the forecasters for unusual weather.

After a severe thunderstorm swept through Moscow in June, Luzhkov accused forecasters of "telling lies." Last March when record-breaking snowfalls blanketed the city, he threatened to fire all the meteorologists, even though Rosgidromet is a federal agency and does not formally report to City Hall.

Officials at the mayor's press office said they were unaware that the meteorologists were making no plans to guarantee blue skies for the first World Youth Games in Russia.

Luzhkov, who is billing the games as the Youth Olympics, is taking great pains to make sure they are a success and hopes they will boost his case for bringing the Olympic Games back to Moscow.

The clouds near Moscow were seeded in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of victory in World War II. A major operation was conducted in Ukraine in 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear accident to keep radioactive elements from reaching the Dnepr River through rain water.