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russian unorthodox: Preparing for the End of the World

Published: December 5, 2012 (Issue # 1738)


Thousands of Russians are preparing for a very special day during the last half of December. And they are looking for special deals and attractive offers to mark the occasion.

If you guessed New Years Eve, youd be wrong. They are preparing for doomsday, December 21. That is the day on which the Mayan people of Central America calculated the world would come to an end.

Residents in the Siberian city of Tomsk, for instance, have been buying emergency kits designed specifically to enable Russian people to face the ultimate calamity. These packs are being distributed by the Marina Mendelson private wedding agency at the bargain price of 890 rubles ($28). They contain food items such as buckwheat and sprats, and, this being Russia, there is vodka to soften the trauma of extinction, or maybe just lubricate that last party.

The kits also contain practical equipment like matches, candles, and a first aid kit. Judging by the contents, its creators expect the last day of human civilization to include, at the very least, a power outage.

According to the state-funded daily newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, several thousand packs were sold in less than a week. The wedding agency said it has been getting orders from far beyond Tomsk.

The Mayan doomsday kit seems to be a bit of light-hearted fun that got out of hand. Spokespeople for Marina Mandelson told the media that the packs were created as a kind of comic relief idea. But it seems that plenty of people have taken the apocalyptic prediction at face value.

In Moscow, dozens of people have apparently been buying vouchers, at 500 rubles ($16.20) apiece, that are supposed to grant absolution for their sins, guaranteed by a Roman Catholic church in Italy. In the Middle Ages the sale of indulgences was widespread. The main difference today is that they are sold on the Internet.

Normally that offer might cut little ice with Russian Orthodox believers, but it seems that on this occasion the potent brew of Mayan prophecy, god-fearing Russian Orthodoxy, and purported Roman Catholic endorsement has proved too much for some people to resist.

The Mayan calendar is no laughing matter for Andrei Gorshechnikov, a member of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. He sponsored a motion calling on St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko to ban discussion of the doomsday prophecy in the media. The appeal, supported by a group of Gorshechnikovs fellow lawmakers, said, Media attention to the doomsday according to the Mayan calendar is unhealthy and is provoking a climate of panic in society.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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