For more than a month, Russians around the country have been buying up candles and matches, salt and torches in an effort to outsmart the apocalypse some believe will come when the Mayan calendar runs out on Friday.
In the coalmining town of Novokuznetsk, shelves nearly emptied of salt stocks last month as the city's residents prepared to ride through the end of the world. "60 tonnes were bought in one week," Yelena Zuyeva, a city official, said last week in comments carried on the local administration's website. "Today all trade companies are working and are ready for any level for consumer activity."
Online forums have been buzzing with people exchanging tips on what to eat after the entire human population is wiped out on Friday. "If I'm not mistaken, Russia makes all sorts of dehydrated products that are rich in all kinds of vitamins," a user named Yelena Portnenkova wrote on a forum called "How to live? What to eat?" on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. "Yet filling a garage with stocks of food is not just pointless, but dangerous. If the apocalypse comes, then crowds of hungry, angry, terrified and horrified people will sweep into your garage just because they suspect they might find something edible."
Government officials have been called upon to calm fears. Vladimir Puchkov, Russia's emergency situations minister, urged Russians to call his ministry's hotline if they had any fears. His deputy, Sergei Anikeyev, added: "We don't believe in the 'end of the world' fable," adding hastily: "But we're ready to help people with any emergency situation."
With the end of the world just days away, Russians have moved from buying stocks to thinking long and hard about where to be when the lights go off. In Moscow, an underground bunker built during the second world war for the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin has offered its services: "We invite you to survive the apocalypse on 21 December in Bunker-42 on Taganka at 65 metres underground!" a note written in ominous red on its website cheerily reads.
Wow, and here I thought Americans had more than their fair share of undereducated morons.
You know you would think with so MANY predictions of an apocalypse or destruction of the earth, which NEVER pan out, that people would sort of take the hint that these predictions are simply a bunch of poppycock.
Oh well, I guess it gives the little brains among us something to do with their spare time.
However perhaps we could help out our Russian brothers and sisters by proving them with a dose of Neil deGrassee Tyson.