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Russians mark end of the world on Stalin’s birthday in same-name bunker

December 21, 2012, 16:36 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

The end of the world awaited throughout the globe is in a strange way, like many things happening in Russia’s modern history, connected with the name of Joseph Stalin. Firstly, December 21 is a birth date of the bloody tyrant, who still enjoys surprising popularity among a certain part of Russians. Secondly, some people have decided to wait till the promised Armageddon is over in Stalin’s bunker in central Moscow.

On the whole, Russians see speculations about the world coming to an end as a medicine for boredom and a well-publicized commercial project.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov with a group of friends has put wrests today at the Stalin’s burial place in the Kremlin Wall. Communists say unofficially that like all Russian people they are ready for any kind of things, and they cannot be intimidated by the end of the world.

Meanwhile, about 100 Muscovites have been waiting till the doomsday is over in the Stalin’s bunker near Taganskaya Metro Station, at the depth of 65 meters. Ahead of WWII Stalin gave instructions to dig an arm from the Taganskaya circle line where a bunker for the headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was arranged. It was referred to as Stalin’s Bunker. In 1950, in the wake of the Cold War era, it turned into a “secret command centre Bunker-42”. And nowadays this museum of the Cold War era remains one of the safest hiding-places in the world, capable to withstand a direct nuclear strike and making it possible for people to exist in it autonomously for at least for half-a-year.

Tickets to the bomb shelter went on sale a couple of weeks ago. At first the possibility to survive was priced at half-a-million roubles. However, one week ahead of the scheduled apocalypse the prices went down to 50,000 roubles and then dropped to 15,000 roubles.

People not so well-off prepared for the end of the world in a less sophisticated way. Thus, 70-year-old Muscovite Valeriya Mashkova stocked up on canned food, buckwheat, cereals, sugar and other non-perishable food. “I hear about the end of the world practically every day,” the woman said to the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “Ordinary people, TV channels say that this is the Mayan prediction,” she said. The pensioner does not know who the Maya people were, but she has no doubts about the veracity of the prediction.

“I bought candles, stuffed a bag with products, and will fill a big can with water. I have warned relatives to do the same. I heard this will happen at ten in the morning,” the pensioner said. She does not know exactly what the end of the world will look like, but she has a certain idea about that. “There will be an energy crisis,” she says with confidence. “Nothing will function. There will be no water or food,” Valeriya Mashkova said. The woman said she had spent a good half of her old-age pension to prepare for the end of the world. And she is far from being alone in that. According to a poll made by the research centre of the Superjob web portal, 28 percent of Russian nationals attach importance to different superstitions and omens.

Professionally hyped “apocalypse” has become an efficient business idea. Many have managed to make a pretty penny on people’s phobia, including through sheer swindle.

For example, local websites in Nizhny Novgorod posted announcements about tickets to an “ark” that will save people’s lives for 80,000 to 150,000 roubles. The money for a miraculous escape was to be transferred to a certain bank account.

First necessity products were actively sold in Tomsk, which included among other things a bottle of vodka, a rope and soap. Night clubs and other places of entertainment prepared special entertainment programs practically in all regions. Restaurant-keepers also urged the clients to “get wasted for the very last time”.

“The end of the world” has become an excellent business project, the newspaper cites psychologist Yelena Balashova as saying. “It is no secret that people constantly need new and new extreme entertainments, as old entertainments don’t inspire them any longer. Meanwhile, adrenaline rush is simply necessary. The current apocalypse is a novelty which many people have liked for some reason,” she said.

It is natural for people to “like to deceive themselves” and pay their own money for that. “Many people are well aware that nothing superstitious will happen on December 21, but nevertheless they are ready to fork out money for all kinds of silly things – for example for spending several hours in a bunker. This is a kind of an emotional relaxation for them. Some have succumbed to fashion and go to psychiatrists while others get down into bunkers,” she summed up.

Meanwhile, only Chechen residents have really witnessed “an end of the world” so far, as almost 40,000 people were left without electricity in Chechnya’s Nozhai-Yurt region early on Friday. Specialists look into the reason behind the blackout.

Buddhists in Russia have held a special large Hural (Taban Haryuulga). Prayers were held in all temples of the Buddhist traditional Sangha of Russia. People prayed for the welfare of the world and all living beings to eliminate negative aftermaths of a general psychological experience connected with people’s waiting for the apocalypse. Earlier, Buddhists said they did not believe the world will end.

The “end of the world” predicted by the Mayan calendar has become the subject matter for numerous discussions of scientists and pseudo-scientists. However, it was the Russian leader who has dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s for the fellow countrymen. The end of the world “will come in 4.5 billion years, it depends on the cycle of the Sun’s functioning. The reactor will go dead and the Sun will turn into a white dwarf,” President Vladimir Putin said at his big news conference on Thursday.

Hardly anyone in the country but the opposition will contest now.


MOSCOW, December 21