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Member of Greenpeace Russia Apologises for Comments Linking Yakut People to Wildfires

© REUTERS / ROMAN KUTUKOVFirefighters wear protective clothing while working to extinguish a forest fire near the village of Magaras in the region of Yakutia, Russia July 17, 2021.
Firefighters wear protective clothing while working to extinguish a forest fire near the village of Magaras in the region of Yakutia, Russia July 17, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.07.2021
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YAKUTSK, Russia (Sputnik) - The head of Greenpeace Russia's wildfire unit, Grigory Kuksin, has apologised for his recent comments in which he blamed forest fires in Siberia on certain social practices of the Yakut people.
The firefighter has been accused of racism and xenophobia after a video of him explaining what causes the wildfires in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to journalists made rounds on social media. Kuksin stated that "Yakuts who do not put out campfires are a hazard of its own," citing the Siberian people's folk belief that doing so would enrage fire spirits.
"I apologise if somebody was offended by my comments about the Yakuts and campfires. I most certainly was not talking about an ethnic trait and could have by accident described all of the region's residents and visitors as Yakuts, for which I apologise," Kuksin wrote on Facebook.
The Greenpeace member went on to stress that people who cause fires by their negligence appear among all social groups.
"And I treat the stories about 'fire spirits getting angry if you throw earth on fire' (we hear such explanations from various peoples) same as something like 'If this is God's will to flame up, it will flame up, my campfire has nothing to do with this,'" Kuksin added.
Since late June, Yakutia has been under a regional state of emergency due to raging wildfires.
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