Half the readers of a Moscow paper believe that the meteorite was, say, a UFO or message from God.

A Moscow newspaper has revealed a poll that says around half its readers believe last week’s exploding Chelyabinsk meteor wasn’t actually a meteor at all. The paper in question is Noviye Izvestia, which the Christian Science Monitor reports is a “fairly staid Moscow daily.” Half of Russians polled thought that the meteor was probably a secret U.S. weapon test, an alien spacecraft, a ballistic missile, a message from God, or even “an extraterrestrial Trojan horse carrying a deadly space virus to wipe out the Earth.” Russians are reluctant to trust the official story because during the Soviet era there were centrally controlled campaigns of misinformation about disasters and events surrounding national security, thus many turn to rumor and speculation for their version of events.

“Our people remember the Soviet past, when news of disasters was concealed or lied about,” Alexei Grazhdankin, deputy director of an independent Moscow polling agency told Christian Science Monitor. “We have no scientific polls on what people think about the Chelyabinsk event last week, but it’s safe to assume the majority of Russians accept that it was a meteorite. However, our past surveys show that up to 25 percent of Russians do believe in UFOs. A lot of our people just prefer not to accept the safe explanations they were taught at school. Even when all necessary information is available, they don’t want to believe it.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor

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