Where do you hide? What's it like in a bunker? What food should you bring? The Russian news media quietly prepares the public for nuclear war
The situation in Syria has grown tense. Human rights activists say the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill dozens of civilians, which could mean new Western sanctions against the Assad regime’s sponsors in Moscow. Russia, meanwhile, accuses Israel of bombing Syrian airbases, and the United States is contemplating a missile strike at targets in Syria that could provoke an armed response from Russian troops in the area. With all this happening, the Russian news media has started reporting on a potential war between the U.S. and Russia, going so far as to recommend what groceries people ought to take with them to bomb shelters. Meduza summarizes the most alarmist stories to grace Russia’s airwaves this week.
Rossiya 24’s evening news report on Tuesday, April 10, drew lots of attention from journalists and people on social media. The report warned against rising “hysteria” about a Third World War, before offering advice to those who “had given in to the panic”: when shopping for the bomb shelter’s cupboard, avoid sweets — they only increase thirst. Grab all the water you can; it will be your most valuable resource.
On the morning of Thursday, April 12, the tabloid Life published a collection of tips for surviving a nuclear strike. As with Rossiya 24’s report two days earlier, Life’s story begins with a cautionary note about the recent “jolt of fear and hysteria” on social media regarding the possible start of a “nuclear apocalypse.”
The “degree of paranoia in the air has spiked,” the story warns, before advising people to seek shelter in the subway system. Be careful, says Life, because not all the metro stations in Moscow and St. Petersburg are capable of withstanding a nuclear blast. “You need stations built deep in the ground that are equipped with retractable doors and a good ventilation system. Two of the deepest stations are “Admiralteyskaya” in St. Petersburg and Park Pobedy in Moscow,” the article says.
47news.ru and Fontanka.ru
In St. Petersburg, the website 47news.ru published a report early on April 12 from a local bomb shelter (technically, from a “civil defense shelter build to shield up to 1,200 people”), and the website Fontanka.ru later republished part of the story.
47news.ru’s report describes the conditions people would endure inside a shelter: Where would they sit? Where could they lie down? (The beds have only wooden headrests and no mattresses.) How secure are these shelters?
Introducing the story, 47news.ru writes, “As soon ‘war’ started getting mentioned in headlines between the words ‘Putin’ and ‘Trump,’ our reporters went down into a civilian shelter. You can live for five days here, and you’ll have to sleep in turns.”
In a story published on April 11, a reporter for MK tried to find out how much a proper private bomb shelter costs to build. According to a “specialist in protective structures,” these facilities generally cost at least 5 million rubles ($80,900).
The website Moika78 also published a story about the bomb shelters in St. Petersburg, reviewing online advertisements for various options. It found a basement for rent for 358,000 rubles ($5,800) a month, and a bomb shelter for sale for 125 million rubles ($2 million). Moika78 also prefaced its report with a summary of the “tense international situation” and Donald Trump’s recent statements.