Russia plans to take over woodlands and holiday towns to ease its overcrowded capital, but critics of this plan fear an impending environmental disaster.

This article titled “Moscow to double in geographical size to ease overcrowding” was written by Miriam Elder in Moscow, for The Guardian on Thursday 14th July 2011 11.04 UTC

Russian officials have announced plans to more than double Moscow's territory in a bid to alleviate the city's crippling traffic and overcrowding, but critics worry the move could prove to be an environmental fiasco and leave thousands displaced.

The plan to increase Moscow's size from the current 264,000 acres to 620,000 acres was given initial approval on Monday by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, in a meeting with the city's mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and Boris Gromov, governor of the surrounding Moscow region. The plan will see Moscow expanding to the south and south-west, taking in forestland, small communities and dachas or summerhouses.

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