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Russian region wants to be known as "meteorite capital"

RUSSIA The Russian region of Chelyabinsk wants a new nickname: "The meteorite capital."

The region has applied to Russia's main patent service for rights to the unusual title, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Chelyabinsk received international attention on Feb. 15 when a massive meteorite exploded over the region, wounding more than 1500 people and causing about $30 million in damage to thousands of buildings.

NASA said the meteorite measured 161 feet by 180 feet and released about 30 times as much energy as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

It appears Chelyabinsk is now keen to take advantage of its notoriety.

The governor's administration has submitted an application to the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks, reports The Moscow Times.

The official trademark would most likely be used for tourism, cultural events, publishing and video products, according to Natalya Denisova, the head of the regional administration's department for special projects.

"It's unlikely that we'd have a conflict of interest with Chebarkul (a city in Chelyabinsk) or with businessmen. We're all after one main goal here -- promoting a positive image of the Chelyabinsk region," said Denisova.

Several other applications for trademarks were submitted by a company called "Patent Group," including "Mysterious Meteorite," "Urals Meteorite," and "Chebarkul Meteorite." Applicants have asked to register the trademark on a variety of products, including coffee, tea, sugar, ice cream, spices.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite was the largest reported impact event since 1908, when a space rock exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, flattening an estimated 80 million trees over 1336 square miles.

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