Doomsday hysteria has gripped Russia and some of its neighbors. Travel agencies are selling tours to either heaven or hell and people are stocking up on food and fuel. Officials are publicly denying the apocalypse, hoping to calm the hype.
Those awaiting Doomsday have three weeks to finish their preparations before the date of the much publicized apocalypse allegedly predicted by Mayan calendar, that is going to happen on December 21, 2012.
Thousands of people across Russia keep stocking up their back rooms and balconies with food, fuel and other supplies they might need when disaster strikes. Some are even moving outside of cities because of the widely spread rumors that cities would be impossible to survive in after an apocalypse on Earth.
According to one of the most popular scenarios, on December 21 the sun is going to line up with the center of our Milky Way galaxy which will cause an entire blackout on Earth and a wave of different natural disasters.
Doomsday merchandize offered in Russia and Ukraine include survival kits. In the Siberian city of Tomsk such itemsfor “meeting the end of the world” include ID cards, notepads, canned fish, a bottle of vodka, rope, a piece of soap, among other items. The packages are said to be popular among customers, more than 1,000 kits have been already sold, the company says.
Ukrainian entrepreneurs also offer a version of a doomsday kit. Just like Tomsk package, the Ukrainian one also includes alcohol: champagne for ladies and vodka for gentlemen. The rest of the kit consist of jack-knife, two-minute noodles, shampoo, soap, rope, matches and condoms.
Marina Mendelson wedding agency sells Last Day sets in Tomsk. (RIA Novosti / Yakov Andreev)
Not all doom and gloom
An apocalypse kit is not the only way for the entrepreneurial minded to cash in on the end of the world hype.
One Ukrainian enterprise is selling tours to heaven and hell for December 21 promising full return of money in case of “not getting to heaven or hell.” A trip to heaven would cost about $15, while trip to the underworld is more expensive at around $18. The agency explains difference in price by saying that Hell should be more fun.
While Ukrainian trips are even said by the firm behind to be just for fun, some individuals in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod offered far more expensive doomsday fair – one being a salvation trip in an arc. An internet ad offered seats in the arc for just 80,000-150,000 rubles, which is approximately $2,600-5,000.
Bars and nightclubs are getting ready for apocalypse day in their own way announcing theme parties and inventing special cocktails like “Total Recall” – an extremely alcoholic drink that makes you “recall your entire life.”
But doomsday hysteria isn’t isolated to just the former soviet Republic. In France authorities had to ban access to a mountain that doomsday theorists believe will be the only safe spot during the apocalypse on December 21.
At the birthplace of Mayan calendar, Mexico and Guatemala agencies offer tours “The end of the world with Maya” and “The world of Maya 2012.”
Pictures advertizing tickets to heaven sold for $15. Images taken from pokupon.ua
Russian officials cancel apocalypse
Meanwhile, in Russia rapidly growing doomsday hype has sparked a negative reaction from authorities.
Russia`s Emergency Ministry is not expecting any global cataclysms in the near future, the head of EMERCOM Vladimir Puchkov said on Friday, adding that those worried are free to call the Ministry hotline to talk about their concerns.
Another senior official took a more emotional stance about doomsday speculations. Russia`s Chief Medical Officer of Health Gennady Onishenko lashed out at those publicizing the apocalypse warning that they would end up in court.
“This directly influences people`s health. When they depress you and say that in less than one month everything is going to end, there are many people, who believe this,” he said.
Russian State Duma deputies wrote an open letter urging media to stop speculating about the doomsday. The deputy head of the Duma committee on Science and Technology publicly promised that no apocalypse is happening on December 21.
“In our committee there are academics and scientists, and with all responsibility we state that there will be no doomsday. Who made that up and circulates this around?” he asked.
The speculations about December 21, 2012, doomsday are prompted by the Mayan calendar ending on this very day.
The Mayan civilization reached its height from 300 AD to 900 AD was based in modern day Mexico and Central America. Mayans were good astronomers and created very precise calendars.
Their Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 BC, measuring time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The thirteenth Baktun ends around Dec 21, 2012, which first produced rumors about the end of the world.
Despite numerous scientists and Mayan descendants denying the connection between the end of the calendar and the end of the world the rumors quickly got out of control causing public hysteria.
It is not known why this particular end of the world theory became so popular. Over two dozen doomsday predictions have failed to materialize since the beginning of the 20th century.