Locals in the Russian province hit by a spectacular meteorite shower this February say that the sunken space rock is a message from God that has the power to bring about the apocalypse.
The Chelyabinsk Meteorite Church claims to already have 50 members and is filing for legal recognition, according to local news. For now, worshippers meet by the side of Lake Chebarkul in Chelyabinsk province, where the meteorite landed, to pray that divers abandon an operation to salvage the meteorite that they worry could damage its celestial data.
"A lot of the information is still on the heavenly bearer itself and that needs visionaries to have closer contact with the tablets," church founder Andrei Breivchenko said. "We can already see the noosphere's indignation at constant attempts to salvage the meteorite in the super-charged international tension around Syria."
Breivchenko added that he had already drawn up plans for a church to house the meteorite, which he said would draw millions of pilgrims from around the world to Chelyabinsk — a industrial city in the Ural Mountains near Siberia and a favorite target for Russian jokes about its grimness.
Priests with extrasensory perception have already studied part of the meteorite's message, Breivchenko said, but cannot access the rest without touching it. What exactly that message is remains unclear and unmentioned in Breivchenko's two interviews to Russian media. A follower told tabloid website LifeNews that the water from the lake now has the same properties as holy water, but that worshippers are testing it out on house plants before drinking it themselves.
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
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