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Planes to keep Russian jubilee dry

St. Petersburg
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MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian cloud-seeding planes will be in the skies to keep St. Petersburg free from rain during the city's 300th anniversary festivities.

On orders from President Vladimir Putin, 10 planes equipped with chemical charges will try to keep Russia's second city dry as tourists and world leaders attend the jubilee celebration.

"Our aim is to empty all clouds of rain before they hit the city borders," Vladimir Stepanenko of St. Petersburg's Geophysics Observatory told The Times of London.

Since the Soviet era, Russians have sought to control the weather, developing techniques to halt or induce rain as well as stop hail from damaging crops.

The observatory in St. Petersburg used cloud-seeding planes to keep the city dry during the 1994 Goodwill Games, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

For the city's jubilee, Putin -- a St. Petersburg native -- will be joined by U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and dozens of other heads of state on May 30-31.

Thousands of anniversary events, including parades, exhibits and concerts, are planned from Friday through June 1. (Full story)

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