Russian preppers in Russia call themselves survivalists. These people believe at the end of the world, but are not sectarians. They always carry backpacks with them but are not hikers. They shoot great with their guns but are not hunters.
Survivalists, also called Russian preppers in the western world, believe that at any moment some kind of cataclysm can happen, and one must be prepared for this. Read about how the prepping movement came to Russia, who represents it, and whether the stereotypes about those who are always ready for the apocalypse are true. In the article, there are materials translated and adapted from real Russian Preppers forums, newspapers, and YouTube channels by real-life Russian Preppers.
- 1 Soviet vs Russian Preppers
- 2 How Russian Preppers became Russian Survivalists?
- 3 Who are Russian Preppers?
- 4 How Russian Preppers prepare for war and the end of the world?
- 5 Russian preppers — survival gear
- 6 Couch Forum Russian Preppers
- 7 Russian Prepping — Not just a hobby
- 8 Where Russian Preppers Meet
- 9 Real-life Russian Preppers
- 10 Conclusion
Soviet vs Russian Preppers
The origins of the Russian Preppers movement can be traced back to 1649 when the first fire department was established by Tsar Alexis of Russia. His successors Peter the Great and Tsar Alexander II of Russia, modernized the fire defense copying western models.
In 1932, the first civil defense methods were established with the rise of Soviet Air Defense Forces. Finally, in 1960, civil defense became an integral part of the Soviet Ministry of Defense.
Unfortunately, there was no real survival culture in the USSR. The state itself took care of civil defense and built bomb shelters in all residential areas. Besides, saving everybody from the enemy, on your own, was contrary to the ideas of patriotism and collectivism. Soviet preppers thought that it was worth meeting your enemy face to face, as part of a glorious Russian army. Waiting for the war to happen in a self-sustained bunker did not in any way fit with the image of a true Soviet person.
Being one of the largest countries in the world at the time, full of complexities, the USSR prepared for all kinds of disasters, and rightly so. The USSR accepted the fact that zero risks is impossible and prepared extensively on all levels (local and federal) for conflict (extremist political struggle, social disturbances), and non-conflict (natural, ecological) emergencies.
Different local units and federal administrations focused firstly on disaster prevention, then on civil defense and State Reserves for the response to disasters. This is an extremely difficult task because the frequency of disasters only goes up. One look at how many natural disasters are happening around the world in just one month shows the importance of preparedness system.
President Yeltsin founded the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies, and the Elimination of the Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM). Today’s Russian Emerson has been under the direct jurisdiction of President of the Russian Federation — Vladimir Putin since 2012.
There is also a complex system for monitoring, reporting, and alerts called Oksion. This notification system consists of on-street large screens, cameras, and equipment for radiation control.
How efficient the Emerson and Oksion are, tells a story of the huge oil spill which happened in Siberia, in May 2020. According to the article, the government officials learned about the disaster two days after the fact, from social media, infuriating not only Greenpeace but Putin himself as well.
Nevertheless, Russia’s initiative to cooperate with its neighbors can only be applauded. The Hindu reports that Russia wants to share its disaster management experiences and system. Russia is concerned about forecasting tsunami and other natural calamities.
How Russian Preppers became Russian Survivalists?
However, with the collapse of the USSR, everything changed – the responsibility for the life and safety of themselves and their families fell on the shoulders of the citizens themselves.
It was then that the first Russian survivalists appeared. True, they, unlike their American counterparts, did not build bunkers themselves but thought about living in nature or the countryside off the land.
“Indeed, all these underground bunkers on their sites, free possession of weapons and other attributes of true survivalists are possible, perhaps, only in the United States. But we have our zest instead of underground shelters: endless fields and forgotten villages, impenetrable taiga, and abandoned industrial zones. Everything that is drawn in American posters for the next blockbuster about the apocalypse can be seen here by walking along the outskirts of almost any metropolis”says Sergei Malik, author of the Paranoid Nest project
Russian preppers had where to get their knowledge: the culture of hikes and dachas was just widespread in the USSR. And the gloomy atmosphere of the post-apocalypse just came into vogue.
Some Russian preppers fell in love with it while walking through the radioactive wastelands of FALLOUT and STALKER, some had seen enough disaster films, and others were carried away by the idea of survival, having read several dystopias.
According to the YouTube Survkit channel by Roman Kuzminov, many Russian Preppers were set in motion by the novel “The Marauder” by Berkem al Atomi about how the main character and his wife are trying to get to the Chelyabinsk region across Russia divided by the western invaders.
Who are Russian Preppers?
Despite the stereotypes about survivalists, it is difficult to compose a generalized image of a representative of a subculture. There are many currents within the movement itself: preppers are those who make huge stocks in bunkers in case of a conditional nuclear war. Bush crafters are craftsmen who make a fire without matches, who know all kinds of mushrooms and plants and assemble a reliable hut from the devil knows what and sticks under ten minutes. Stalkers are “survivalists” climbing into restricted areas. There are even Partisans who are preparing for war: they learn to handle weapons and train hard.
Take this Russian test and find out what type of Survivalist you are.
One of the prominent Russian Preppers, Roman Kuzminov, organized his branch called – survkitstvo (from the word survkit, also known as survival kit/backpack), so as not to be associated with survivalists and “not to look stupid in the eyes of ordinary people”.
“The survivalist movement itself is not very popular now, as many survivalists have vulgarized it with excessive paranoia. Belief in world conspiracies, zombies, and other fairy tales,” he admits sadly.
How Russian Preppers prepare for war and the end of the world?
“You know, the whole world is afraid of nuclear bombs, but this is not about us. It is the practical skills of survival that are prevalent in our country, for the most part, we prefer something more real than stocking up food and finding a safe haven. We give preference to skills that will help in a more applied situation ” a participant in the movement under the pseudonym Shen sums up the differences between Russian survivalists and American survivalists.
Contrary to stereotypes, he does not carry an alarming backpack everywhere with him. His SURVKIT is always ready and lies at home. The weight of the backpack is 40 kilograms, and this is only the most necessary. Kuzminov tests all the components of the backpack during weekend hikes. Nevertheless, he always has a wearable emergency supply with him, the second copy of which is at home in a survkit. This is a small bag with the most necessary things: a whistle, threads, and needles, medicines (pain relievers and disinfectants), wire, a candle, a lighter and hunting matches, a fishing kit, ties, electrical tape, a mini-compass, a mirror, broth cubes, pencil, and paper.
The majority of the visitors of the websites for Russian Preppers are preparing to survive following the Dacha plan (summer house in a remote location). They plan to lead a self-sustained life outside of civilization, learn new skills, and plan how to escape out of the city in the event of SHTF.
The rest, if SHTF, are ready either to turn their apartment into a shelter and protect the entrance from marauders together with neighbors or to join a spontaneously organized detachment of Russian survivalists who will supply their community with weapons and subsistence farming.
Russian preppers — survival gear
On the streets, the survivalist may not be noticed, but most will have a backpack or a bag with EDC (a set of items carried with them daily, the need for which may arise in various non-standard and extreme situations).
Russian preppers’ clothes will be multi-layered and unmarked (often camouflage), and on their wrist, you can see a paracord bracelet. This functional decoration is woven from parachute lanyard material and is often woven into a mini-compass, fishing tackle or a cable saw.
When it comes to weapons, most survivalists are in favor of legalizing them, and virtually all have hunting rifles. Only a small stratum of the community makes do with non-firearms: bows, crossbows, and slingshots.
Gun laws in Russia
Before 2014, Russian citizens over 18 years could get a firearms license. They have to attend gun safety classes and pass a federal test and background check. Firearms may be bought for self-defense, hunting, or sports activities.
Handguns are not allowed. But, with the growing popularity of shooting events and competitions, handgun ownership has now been allowed, if the handguns are stored at a shooting club. Suppressors are prohibited.
Is it possible to carry weapons in Russia now?
In 2014 Russia relaxed the gun laws. You can carry unloaded and concealed firearms only for self-defense purposes.
Russian Special Forces MRE
IDO1 is a Russian blogger from Moscow who presented this MRE that Russian Preppers also use.
The box itself contains only food, nothing else, so it might not be a bug-out bag, but still is designed for 24 hours, which is written on the box. This food kit was bought in the specialized shop for military and police forces, where actual police officers and soldiers purchase part of their ammunition.
The Avito website is a flea market website where you can find the most used goods. This is where you can get the MRE.
Another world-famous YouTuber tested the Russian MRE. Here is what Crazy Russian Hacker thinks about Russian military food.
If you are interested in how the Russian Special Forces train, the book by Gromov tells you how to survive in various situations we hope we never find ourselves in. It also focuses on the mental aspect of survival situations, which is an often overlooked aspect of true prepper culture. All links are below.
Couch Forum Russian Preppers
A separate category is made up of “couch forum survivors”. It is customary for the community to treat them with some contempt, although it is not always justified.
Often these are theorists who are more interested in speculating about the horrors of BP than directly about questions of survival. For example, a user under the nickname Leonid Zubkov from the “Russian survivalist” forum plans how “10-30 years without the sun in case of an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano” will happen.
In this case, this man intends to “organize a well-armed group, and actively practice cannibalism” and “look for settlements of survivalists, squeeze out their reserves, followed by cannibalism.” He explains the desire to eat people by the fact that without the sun, plants and animals will die out, but people will remain.
And the Russian Preppers community has a very bad attitude towards commercial events. “Getting an introduction on a popular topic by conducting one-day “How to survive in the wild” seminars for office workers is a lucrative and non-hassle job, says Malik.
Russian Prepping — Not just a hobby
Most of the Russian preppers still regard their hobby not as a preparation for the apocalypse, but as a worthy hobby.
“I do not believe in a global apocalypse, zombies, and alien attacks. But this does not negate the facts of local war, floods, earthquakes, fires, and others. Such little apocalypses. ” says Kuzminov.
He lives in the Krasnodar and is concerned about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, so he focused on preparing to survive the war.
“Prepping styles can be different. Someone waits, but for someone, it’s just a hobby. As for me, for example. It’s like the saying “there is some truth in every joke.” It seems like a hobby, but it can also be useful. Isn’t it good to learn something all your life? ”
Sergei Malik also believes that you should not wait for the apocalypse all your life. However, justifying the name of his website with Russian preppers resources — Nest of the Paranoid, he explains that you should always be ready for problems:
“Emergencies occur every hour in all corners of the planet, hundreds of people die from floods and other natural disasters, armed conflicts, or man-made accidents. You have to be completely optimistic to ignore the possibility of similar threats in your area.”
He admits that his survival skills more than once helped him out on hikes and even helped him survive an emergency overnight in the winter forest without a tent and sleeping bag. “After all, if you call it a hobby, it’s not the worst pastime,” he concludes.
Where Russian Preppers Meet
Russian Survivors draw their knowledge mostly from thematic forums. Here they discuss, it seems, literally all aspects of salvation from emergencies: from medical assistance and the ability to understand plants to complete an emergency backpack.
A lot of Russian Preppers concentrated on YouTube and thematic resources. Knowledge about salvation, in their opinion, should be accessible and clear. The information is updated regularly on such resources: a selection of news about the latest incidents, a weather forecast, and information about the seismological status. The “Paranoid Nest” resource has the date, time, and a reassuring signature at the top: “The situation is stable.”
Many representatives of the Russian Preppers movement know and watch American programs about survivalists, however, they are more likely to have fun, preferring sources that are closer to Russian realities. “If I am faced with a choice – to learn from Bear Grylls to extract water from fresh bear droppings or to see how an ordinary village family outside the Urals leads a life at the subsistence level, I will choose the latter,” Malik admits.
Real-life Russian Preppers
Russia Beyond’s article explores how three Russians prepare for Doomsday.
All three Russian preppers are men, in their 40s. They started being interested in military stuff as little kids — playing Boy Scouts, starting a fire, exploring nearby woods, collecting knives. This leads to survivalism.
They are trained in martial arts, diving and possess extensive knowledge about weapons. A long time ago they all started stockpiling supplies, mostly knives, candles, first aid kits, and so on. But, after the coronavirus outbreak, they took it more seriously. One of the Russian preppers started an online store selling survivalist gear.
All three men carry an EDC, have a BOB prepared, and an evacuation plan that they planned and practiced extensively with their families.
They don’t live in big cities like Moscow. But, they are preparing to bug out to their dacha — a remote summer house that every Russian owns. It is now packed with supplies, ready for waiting out the coronavirus pandemic.
These three Russian preppers firmly believe in self-reliance because the good old Soviet times are over. Then, you could count on the state’s preparedness system, but now, the state is only worried about preserving itself.
If you want to learn from real Russian Preppers — watch this winter survival guide.
And also, according to the survivalists, they are loners. The crowd will not survive in the event of an emergency. Crowds of people easily create panic, fights and division of resources. It is better to save yourself alone.
The city after the bombing can easily turn into “wild nature”. What to do? On the forums, again, you can find many useful recipes: “how to survive after being bitten by a zombie”, “an Indian hut as an option for temporary shelter”, “rules of conduct when a crocodile eats you.” My favorite is “nuclear reactor – home from scratch”.
But, as in the recipes for exotic dishes where you need to mix the wings of a butterfly with a grated unicorn horn, this story began like this: “Let’s take just natural uranium without enrichment and a little water …” Here there are no simple recipes, albeit within the law.
Deadly traps for Russian Preppers
Survival traveler from the Russian Federation Alexander Norko died as a result of poisoning by the roots of the poisonous plant cicuta, confusing it with a water lily. Presumably, Norko was poisoned by an ordinary milestone, also called hemlock. It was believed that the Greek philosopher Socrates died after drinking a decoction of this plant.
Norko previously reported that he would temporarily live in a tent outdoors due to the “unhealthy hype with the coronavirus.” Alexander Norko, 62, was known for his long bike rides. He traveled from St. Petersburg to Egypt and Singapore.
The First Russian Preppers
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga.
For 40 Years, this Russian Family was cut off from all human contact, unaware of World War II.
They managed to live in an unexplored land, and the Soviet authorities had no records of anyone living in the district. The family escaped religious prosecution and lived off the land, in a small, dirty burrow, eating mostly potatoes, mixed with whatever they could hunt or collect, in the wilderness, in complete isolation. They made their shoes from birch bark and clothes from hemp cloth.
The two younger daughters were born in the wild and spoke their variant of the Russian language.
The first contact with the scientist was disturbing for the family, filled with fear, but later they proved themselves as friendly hosts, offering the scientists’ food and shelter.
The geologists then decided to help them with little gifts, like salt, at first. Later, the family accepted tools like knives, pen and paper, and even a torch. Interestingly, they declined the sin of television.
Don’t focus only on your part of the world. You can learn so much from other cultures, even the distant ones. Russia has a long history of prepping, on state levels throughout history, and now a more individualistic approach. Russian preppers websites and forums are different than American. Russian survivalists are either more militaristic or more simplistic. Nothing is done halfway in Russia, neither is prepping.
Materials used and translated from Russian:
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