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The sky falls in the land of rumors

meteor shower

The meteor fallout may have stopped, but conspiracy theories are still raining down on Russians, said Alexander Malyshev. The 10-ton rock that screamed through the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk last week was captured on many of the dashboard cameras that are so ubiquitous in Russia to guard against police corruption and document traffic accidents. So there’s lots of footage of the contrails and the shock wave, just no consensus about what caused them. Everyone’s “first assumption was that it was another massive accident at Mayak,” a nearby nuclear reactor that in 1957 was the site of the world’s worst nuclear waste accident until Chernobyl. Once it became clear that there was no radiation, “all of our hidden fears” came out. Some theorized that the meteor was an American space weapon, others that it was a UFO shot down by U.S. or Russian missiles. More plausibly, some argued that the blast came from a Russian missile test gone awry. The one thing that we could agree on was that the meteor was not a meteor, as the government-run news outlets claimed. “For Russians,” says political analyst Andrei Lavrov, “everything that goes through the official channels is assumed to be false.” It’s actually “easier to believe in little green men.”

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