In Brief

Russia spends £1m to keep the rain away

Kremlin forks out for 'cloud seeding' programme in bid for sunny May Day parade

wd-russia_may_day.jpg

The Russian government spent nearly £1m over the weekend in a bid to prevent rain on the May Day holiday.

According to the country's official news agency, Tass, the Kremlin paid 86m roubles (£900,000) for a programme of "cloud seeding" - spraying dispersant chemicals onto clouds so they rain earlier.

The practice was developed in the US in the 1940s and later used by the US during the Vietnam War in an attempt to extend the monsoon season and cripple enemy forces with mud. Soviet planes also seeded clouds after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster to stop radioactive particles reaching Moscow via clouds.

The Russian authorities are thought to have been using the technique for decades. Last year, it was reported that the Kremlin spent millions of dollars to guarantee sunshine for celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The practice received worldwide attention after it was revealed it had been used extensively by the Chinese government during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It has even been made available to private individuals, "with companies offering the opportunity to have the weather altered for people's weddings", says The Independent.

Russia's attempts appear to have been effective - the May Day parade took place on Sunday under sunny skies.

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