Bird Flu Alarm

2006-01-11-Russian Says Blast Birds to Stem Flu

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-01-11-Russian Says Blast Birds to Stem Flu

MOSCOW -- Flamboyant nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky on Wednesday urged Russian men to grab rifles and shoot migratory birds to stem the spread of avian flu from Turkey.

Zhirinovsky, who has earned a reputation as the clown of Russian politics thanks to his provocative statements and other antics, told a parliament session that Russia should become a no-fly zone for migratory birds from Turkey.

"We must force the government to stop the bird migration," Zhirinovsky said. "We must shoot all birds, field all our men and troops ... and force migratory birds to stay where they are."

Nikolai Gerasimenko, a prominent member of the Kremlin-controlled United Russia faction that dominates the parliament, dismissed Zhirinovsky's statement, saying lawmakers must invite officials for a serious discussion of the situation and the planned preventive steps.

President Vladimir Putin urged the Cabinet on Tuesday to develop a plan to prevent a new bird flu outbreak in Russia, noting that many of its neighbors were affected. The nation's chief epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko, announced intensified health inspections of people arriving from Turkey, including Muslim pilgrims returning from Mecca via Turkey.

In an interview published Wednesday in the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Onishchenko said his agency was closely following the developments in Turkey and could launch unspecified "more radical measures" to prevent the flu outbreak from spreading to Russia.

Onishchenko on Wednesday also ordered Russia's medical facilities to conduct laboratory tests of all flu patients.

Akhmed Bilalov, who is helping organize Russian Muslims' pilgrimages to Mecca, said Wednesday that they would take an alternate route home and bypass Turkey, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Russia has registered outbreaks of H5N1 in fowl in a number of regions, but no cases of human infection have been reported.

Understanding Avian Influenza