By Sylvia Gurinsky
Two decades ago, particularly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev understood that his country had an outdated and outmoded infrastructure in place.
However, what changes Gorbachev tried to make were eventually nullified, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with ineffectual leadership over environmental issues by Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president and destructive actions since then by Vladimir Putin.
Now, Russia is burning - not only with forest fires, but with the anger of residents who understand, yet again, how much their leaders have messed up.
Besides the disaster of all that has been burned is the disaster of a lack of environmental policy for Russia, one of the worst countries in the world at preserving what it needs to.
Putin promises better. He can start with an open investigation of all the failings, including his own, that led to the fires. Then, he and President Dmitri Medvedev must re-do Russia’s environmental policy.
It is imperative that Russia go green – and open its doors completely.