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Russian TV Weatherman Blends Weather With Politics

In December, Vadim Zavodchenkov blamed "bad weather" for mass antigovernment protests in Ukraine. And he told protesters that all that smoke from burning baricades was bad for them.
"Clouds are gathering in the sky over eastern Ukraine, and even Russia is feeling the consequences."

This is how weatherman Vadim Zavodchenkov described the region's current weather in his weekly forecast for state television channel Rossia-24.

"A cyclone triggered gusty winds -- perhaps a wind of change in Ukraine's Donetsk -- over the weekend," the weatherman said, adding that "meanwhile, Russia's Crimea was bathed in rain."

Zavodchenkov's genuine weather forecast gets increasingly mixed with the description of the political climate in southeastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have occupied state buildings, and the central government has threatened a large-scale military operation against them.

"In Donbas -- where the situation has escalated to its limits because of the crisis of the Ukrainian government -- a little rainfall is expected today or tomorrow," the weatherman said in his forecast for the week.

WATCH:​ Vadim Zavodchenkov gives his forecast.

"We don't know to what extent the temperature of the confrontation there will rise; as for the weather, however, the temperature will only go up."

As for "calm Crimea" -- the Ukrainian region annexed by Russia last month -- the weatherman predicted a pleasant, sunny spell, pointing out that the warm weather had come to the peninsula a few days earlier than usual this year.

Blaming The Weather

It's not the first time Zavodchenkov has blended weather with politics on Rossia-24, a channel seen as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin.

In early December 2013, he blamed "bad weather" for mass antigovernment protests in Ukraine.

"Bad weather incites people to conflict," Zavodchenkov claimed, citing unidentified research by Columbia University in New York.

Severe changes in the weather "can cause aggression and even some unlawful actions," the weatherman said.

He even urged antigovernment protesters then massing in central Kyiv to go home, saying that staying outdoors for long in the cold weather would harm their health, making them vulnerable to respiratory viral infection.

The protesters stayed on, but the colorful Russian weatherman did not give up either.

In January, he came up with another -- more drastic -- health warning for the demonstrators, telling them they risked getting cancer from inhaling the toxic smoke from tires burning on the protest barricades.
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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.