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Russian survivalists prepare for next ‘apocalypse’

Survivalist movement advises people to buy arms instead of food in case of crisis

Elena Teslova   | 25.03.2020
Russian survivalists prepare for next ‘apocalypse’


In Russia, the global coronavirus pandemic has triggered a surge of interest in survivalist movements.

Making their first appearance during the Cold War, survivalists truly believed in an inevitable apocalypse caused by a nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union and attempted to prepare retreats that would enable them to survive the blasts from nuclear bombs.

Following the end of the Soviet Union, the movement seemed to have lost its relevance. But then it rose again, especially in 2014, due to the events in Ukraine and in 2017, when Russia launched its military operation in Syria.

These Russian survivalists, who closely follow any alarming situations in the world, became agitated since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

When the first cases were confirmed in Russia and the authorities banned foreigners from entering the country, the survivalists announced a red level of danger, predicting the imposition of emergency rule in Russia where access to the big cities and exit from them is prohibited, the army patrols the streets, there is a lack of food and medicine and the government introduces ration cards and kills the infected people.

Frightened by possible outcomes and suspecting the government of hiding the real threat, the survivalists are moving to remote regions where they can wait out the epidemic far from "the impact zone."

Normally such people hide their real names while being highly active on social media, where they teach people how to survive in emergencies.

Recently their instructions generated millions of hits, with videos showing how to make masks from bandages and cotton widely viewed amid a shortage of medical face masks at drug stores.

They also published maps with secret routes that would enable people to leave locked down cities once they are blocked by the military, rules for packing "a bug-out bag" -- a portable kit containing the items one would require to survive for 72 hours -- and other recommendations and training in survival knowledge and skills.

Some of the survivalists left the big cities long ago. There are big communities in the Urals, Siberia and Caucasus where fortified underground shelters with custom ventilation and water clearance systems have been built.

They also stockpile arms, food and medicine as well as seeds and other items, allowing them to sit out a catastrophe, fight back against raiders and restore life on Earth.

 'Don't buy food, buy ammunition'

The survivalists explain that Russia will suffer from the coronavirus pandemic more than other countries because its economy is being hit by a fall in oil prices, devaluation of the ruble and the country's dependence on imports of a number of goods.

In the event of border closures, it could result in a food crisis and social unrest when those who did not stockpile supplies would most probably try to plunder those who did.

"Don't buy food. Buy ammunition. Those who have the weapons will have the meals," the survivalists write in their public groups on social networks.

According to this scenario, the government then cuts off Internet access to suppress the unrest as the worldwide web is currently the main communication channel, but it will lead to the collapse of the economy and further panic and chaos.

Another scenario suggests a fight for resources and problems with water and electricity supply caused by the impossibility to produce the needed volumes when part of the population dies and another part flees.

The survivalists also advise having arms in case events shown in Hollywood films come true, like when an unknown illness strikes humankind, turning people into zombies or other kinds of unpleasant creatures, an idea they take rather seriously.

Famous sayings warn that people are prone to exaggerate the emergency, the danger always looks bigger through the eyes of fear and fear has long legs.

As for the survivalists, the golden time has come for them when they can consume at least part of their food stocks while they are still waiting for an apocalypse which had to come in the times of the U.S.-Soviet tensions, after the September 11 attacks and the end of the Mayan calendar.

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