Terrorism can be good for bunker builders. An apocalypse can be even better for business.
Danila Andreyev started building “panic rooms” three years ago, when fears of terrorist attacks and commercial disputes turning violent created demand in Russia. Now he’s selling “survival bunkers” for as much as $400,000 each to capitalize on angst over theories the world will end next year.
“I myself am not a believer in doomsday scenarios,” Andreyev, 31, whose Spetsgeoproekt company is completing 15 bunkers at hidden locations across Russia, said at his office in central Moscow. “But when you start hearing clients talking about the end of the world, it gets you thinking.”
Though Russia has been a target for terrorists, with 37 people dying in a blast at Moscow’s busiest airport in January, more people are looking to protect themselves from what Andreyev calls a “global cataclysm” in 2012 based on predictions such as interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar.
Northwest Shelter Systems, a company based in Sandpoint, Idaho, that specializes in nuclear-bomb shelters, has had the number of inquiries from potential customers rise as much as 60 percent since the March tsunami and earthquake in Japan, Allen Thompson, vice president, said by e-mail.
The Vivos Group, a Del Mar (San Diego County) bunker builder with a website that features a meteor striking Earth, said requests for a shelter in one of its facilities jumped by 10 times since the disaster, which left about 25,000 people dead or missing.
“Hundreds of applications” come from Russia and other former Soviet states, Vivos founder Robert Vicino said by e-mail. The nearest Vivos shelter is at an unidentified location in central Europe, he said. It costs about $25,000 per person.
“Every person has a different belief or sense of what may be ahead for all of us,” Vicino said. “Vivos is not about 2012, but having a life-assurance solution for our families for whenever disaster strikes.”
Vivos is building facilities in the United States and elsewhere. It said in January it was considering buying a two-story bunker constructed for the British government in 1990 in rural Scotland.
Spetsgeoproekt, which stands for Special Geological Projects, plans to open a showroom in the affluent Moscow neighborhood of Rublevka this year and is expanding into Russia’s regions, Andreyev said.
The company’s bunkers range from 377 to 969 square feet. Maintaining the unit, including the air system, runs about $2,500 a year, he said.
Altai, the mountainous southern Siberian region that borders China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, is of particular interest because it’s believed to be “flood proof,” Andreyev said. Spetsgeoproekt started building an approximately 260-square-foot, $350,000 bunker in Altai.
“They all say the same thing: Next year there’ll be a polar shift or something and most of Russia will be flooded except for Altai and a few other regions,” Andreyev said.
Alexei, 35, one of Andreyev’s clients, said distress over the coming apocalypse prompted him in February to order the construction of a $150,000 bunker big enough to shelter eight people outside of Moscow. He declined to give his full name to keep it secret that he ordered a bunker.
Something catastrophic certainly will happen next year, Alexei said in a telephone interview.
“It all points to some shake-up on Dec. 21, 2012,” Alexei said, citing his interpretations of the doomsday predictions of 16th century French apothecary Nostradamus, the blind Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga and the Mayan calendar.
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