President seen as potential saviour as people direct rage over toxic dumps towards local officials

The stench from the Yadrovo landfill is bearable only when it is downwind. When the breeze shifts, the fumes become overpowering, a mix of petrol fumes and a noxious sulphur smell that powers its way into your nose and down your throat.

For decades, it was a local dump viewed as a minor nuisance. But six months ago, dozens of trucks each day began hauling in garbage from Moscow. Levels of hydrogen sulfide and chlorine in the air rocketed, children began suffering skin rashes and respiratory ailments, and the town of Volokolamsk, 60 miles north-west of Moscow, became an unlikely centre of an ecological protest.

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