US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Unexplored religious cities, Soviet military cities, secret American military bases, huge anti-nuclear shelters, underground warehouses in the far north … Together with beautiful photographs, we want to present you unexplored cities of the world that are not on the map. The book “Visual History – Uncharted Cities of the World”, published by Nikkei National Geographic, will help us with this. In this article we will tell you about the closed Soviet cities.
Disappeared Nizhny Novgorod
Russia is currently a democratic country. At least formally. Nevertheless, she cannot get rid of old habits in any way. The features of the former totalitarianism are still clearly visible.
For example, closed cities are scattered all over Russia. According to some reports, there are more than 40 of them, but in reality there are many more. Cities in the USSR began to close in the second half of the 1940s. The corresponding order was issued by Joseph Stalin, whose policy was characterized by paranoia. After World War II, there were developments in the field of nuclear weapons and space flights, so everything was classified behind the Iron Curtain.
Closed cities were also removed from maps. Almost nothing is known about Vorkuta, located in the Russian Arctic. The city was created as a result of the fact that in the GULAG camp located in the region, prisoners were forced to do hard labor. It was not difficult to make it as if Vorkuta did not exist at all.
Nevertheless, the name of such cities as Nizhny Novgorod, which from time immemorial was one of the centers of Russia and where strategic military facilities are located, could be changed, but it was not easy to erase them from people’s memory. By the way, in Soviet times this city was renamed Gorky in honor of the writer who was born in Nizhny Novgorod.
During the Soviet era, not only foreigners, but even Soviet citizens could not get to this city with a deep history, if they did not have a good reason. Despite the fact that the population of Gorky exceeded one million people, until the 1970s, even its residents could not get a map of the city.
The most polluted city in the world
Ozersk is located south of the Ural Mountains, 1200 kilometers east of Nizhny Novgorod. This city was also built from scratch by the Gulag prisoners. At that time it was called Chelyabinsk-40 (later Chelyabinsk-65). Thus, usually closed cities were called so – a certain number was attached to large regional centers.
Around 1945, about 70,000 prisoners began building a nuclear reactor and underground facilities. At this facility, which was called the Mayak plant, the radiation level was frightening – the percentage of workers who survived in five years was 0%.
At that time, in the USSR and other similar countries, few people understood the measures of protection against radiation and its effects.
Mayak dumped heavily polluted water into the nearby Techa River, and residents of 24 towns and villages located downstream used it. When an underground explosion occurred in 1957, people did not have time to evacuate from nearby villages, and especially from Chelyabinsk-65, where there was the largest population. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people received a dose of radiation several dozen times higher than the permissible limits.
The consequences were several times more serious than the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which occurred 30 years later. The percentage of cancers rose sharply. Numerous families fell victim to this tragedy.
That generation was even called “dying out” because of the frequency of congenital anomalies and the severity of end-stage symptoms. The nuclear power plant is still operating in Ozersk. The city is closed to outsiders.
Closed cities of the “Soviet empire”
The USSR, pursuing the policy of Soviet imperialism, isolated many of its cities from the world. There were various good reasons for this, but the main one was the presence in such cities of military facilities that operated in strict secrecy.
The port city of Sevastopol, located in Crimea in southern Ukraine, is home to a strategically important naval base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In Soviet times, this city was closed.
Ukrainian Dnipro (old name of Dnieper (Dnipropetrovsk)) was also a closed city. They developed and produced engines for ballistic and space missiles. In the USSR, Dnepropetrovsk was known as a rocket city.
Currently Baltic Estonia is an independent state and a member of the European Union. However, when it was under Soviet control, its towns Sillamäe and Paldiski were closed.
In Sillamäe, where the majority of the population is Russian, there was a chemical plant for the production of uranium, in Paldiski, a training center for the crews of nuclear submarines.
There are other secret cities. For example, the Moldovan town of Covasna was closed during the Soviet era. Now it is claimed by Transnistria, which has separated from Moldova, where ethnic Russians and Ukrainians live.
There is a city in Kazakhstan called Priozersk. An anti-missile test site for intercepting ballistic missiles is still in operation there. All these cities are still closed.
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