April is the cruelest month according to T.S. Eliot, but for modern Russia it is undoubtedly August, a time of catastrophe, crisis and political upheaval.
For almost two decades, Russians have learned to expect the worst from the eighth month of the year, with 1991 seeing a coup and 2008 war in the Caucasus. Last year saw large swathes of Russia hit by wildfires, with the capital shrouded in a toxic smog.
The complete litany of August chaos and woe reads like this:
August 14, 1992 - The Georgian-Abkhazian war begins, with the conflict involving large numbers of Russian citizens.
August 24, 1995 - The Russian interbank credit system breaks down, leading to the ruin of 28 Russian banks.
August 29, 1996 - A Russian Tupolev TU-154 crashes over the Arctic Ocean, all 141 people on board die.
August 17, 1998 - The Russian government defaults on its foreign and domestic debt and the ruble loses two-thirds of its value in the next four weeks.
August 7, 1999 - Chechen fighters invade Dagestan, signaling the start of the second Chechen war.
August 8, 2000 - A bomb explodes in a pedestrian underpass in central Moscow killing 13 people.
August 8, 2002 - Floods and strong winds kill 59 people in the Russian Black sea city of Novorossiisk.
August 19, 2002 - A military Mi-26 helicopter is shot down over Chechnya, 126 servicemen die.
August 1, 2003 - A suicide bomber attacks a military hospital in the Russian North Ossetia town of Mozdok, killing over 50.
August 24, 2004 - Two Russian passenger planes are blown up by Chechen terrorists, over 90 people die.
August 31, 2004 - A Chechen suicide bomber blows herself up outside Moscow's Rizhskaya metro station, killing 10. The next day, September 1, sees the start of the Beslan school siege.
August 21, 2006 - Nationalists explode a bomb at Moscow's Cherkizovo market, killing 13.
August 22, 2006 - A Russian Tu-154 plane crashes in Ukraine, 170 lose their lives.
August 17, 2009 – An accident at East Siberia’s Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam kills 74.
August 2010 - Abnormal heat and wildfires kill 50 people and leave some 2,000 homeless across the central part of European Russia. Moscow is covered in a toxic smog for days on end, with overall pollution estimated at 16 times greater than usual.