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Though of course President Putin canceled the apocalypse yesterday, some Russians have nevertheless taken sensible precautions:

Entrepreneurs at the company Paritel, whose tag line is “confidence in every day,” are selling tickets to spend Friday in a 65-meter-deep bunker near Taganskaya metro station. Construction of Bunker-42, which is now a functioning museum, started in the 1940s under Stalin’s directives, and in the 1960s it was outfitted with all the equipment needed to withstand a nuclear blast.

Television station Moskva-24 is helping organize a less expensive event in a different part of the bunker, where patrons will be given water and food supplies to last for the next six months. “We think we have already made our contribution to the continuation of the human race,” said Nikita Lytkin, Moskva-24’s marketing coordinator.

Apocalyptic Russians are nothing new, though as these excerpts from James Billington’s The Icon and the Axe  illustrate, they didn’t always take their cues from the Mayans:

Conservative adherence to past practices was to serve, ironically, to heighten radical expectations of an approaching end to history. Believing that the forms of art and worship should be preserved intact until the second coming of Christ, Russians tended to explain unavoidable innovations as signs that the promised end was drawing near. Though this “eschatological psychosis” was to be more characteristic of the later Muscovite period, there are already traces of it in the dark prophetic preaching of Abraham of Smolensk. . . .

The Latin academies of the Jesuits and even of Mogila were part of the devil’s campaign to destroy the true Eastern Church and lead men away from the world of the early fathers and hermits. . . . “Why set up Latin and Polish schools?” [Ukrainian elder Ivan Vyshensky] asked. “We have not had them up to now and that has not kept us from being saved.” . . .

One of the original Muscovite correctors of books, Ivan Nasedka, suggested that the turn of the Greek Church to Latin philosophizing indicated the approach of Antichrist. “We have no time now to hear your philosophy,” he proclaimed to the learned Lutheran theologians who accompanied the Danish crown prince to Moscow in 1644. “Don’t you know that the end of this world is coming and the judgment of God is at the door?”

Luckily we still have the Russian Communist Party to rein in all this doom and gloom:

“We are materialists. We don’t believe in these freakish stories and funny rumors,” [Communist representative Valery] Rashkin said, adding that party boss Gennady Zyuganov would take part in celebrating Stalin’s 133rd birthday [which the party is commemorating instead].

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