MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) – People in Chelyabinsk, the region hardest hit by the meteorite that slammed Russia on Friday morning, have a tough-guy reputation, pumped up in recent years by a popular TV skit show. Twitter feeds in the hours following landfall kept up the image, but admitted some weaknesses too.
“Everybody cleared out from our office except one dude. Asked why, he said, I need me some coffee first,” Twitter user @ma1ice_ma1ice wrote an hour after the celestial body streaked the sky over the region’s eponymous capital, Chelyabinsk, a city of 1.1 million in the southern Ural Mountains.
Such stories jostled for online space with messages full of words like “fear,” “panic” and “scared sh*tless,” as well as numerous other expletives, which also abounded in most eyewitness videos posted on YouTube.
“Blinding flash of light, then a blast like we’re being bombed. Lord, surviving this is unreal. I thought a war’d begun,” wrote user @DANISHPRINCIPLE.
No deaths were reported as a consequence of the meteorite, but police said by early evening that nearly 1,000 people had been hurt, the majority of them injured by glass shattered by the shock wave.
“Yes, I’m home, shaking all over. Horrible panic here, everybody’s leaving the city,” wrote @DashkaBulanova.
The panic, however, was far from universal: “I was asleep, heard the blast and went back to sleep,” tweeted @Nastyayas.
“That’s some original wake-up call right there, when your door gets blown away by the blast wave,” wrote the less lucky user @R_T_S_.
Some took it better than others. “We were dancing, suddenly a flash of light and a horrible blast, we run up on stage in a panic, and the teacher’s all calm: ‘Don’t worry, it’s just a meteorite,’” reported @caxapoook.
And some were just puzzled. “Me and Anya smoked up and then the blast hit. We were like, what the [f-word] and didn’t understand a thing,” reported Twitter user @marchenkochk.
The people of Chelyabinsk, an industrial city plagued by dismal environmental pollution and high crime rates, became Russia’s new token tough guys after a television skit show called “Our Russia” went viral in the mid-2000s: It extolled their numerous implausible virtues and over-the-top skills, not unlike the US-born “Chuck Norris facts” phenomenon, praising the hyper-tough action hero.
The Russian meme claims that “Chelyabinsk [social group] are so hardcore that…” The variations are many, ranging from “Chelyabinsk postmen are so hardcore they bite dogs in the butt” to “Chelyabinsk woodpeckers are so hardcore they drilled two subway stations.”
The meteorite predictably triggered a wave of new incarnations of the meme, like “Chelyabinsk rains are so hardcore they’re made of stone.”
The meteorite also spawned a dozen Russian-language Twitter accounts of its own, all offering more lowbrow humor, with lines like, “Looking to meet earthlings. No Bruce Willises” – a reference to the Hollywood star’s crusade against space debris in “Armageddon.”