What Is That There Under the Mountain?
Beloretsk BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY, 24 Mar 96 p 1
Interview with Bashkortostan People's Deputy Leonid Akimovich Tsirkunov
by A. Urtsev and V. Yeldashev
Articles have recently appeared in the mass media in which various assumptions and quite categorical conclusions are being made on the mission of the facilities that are being built in the cities of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16. Specifically, articles have appeared in the newspapers KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA and LENINETS and reports have been repeatedly transmitted on radio station Mayak. Our mail has also received more than its share of questions on certain mysterious facilities and L.G. Kozlov specifically requests that we tell the truth. If we briefly present the history of these rumors and conjecture, one can arrive at one conclusion -- all of them depend on the fact that a certain secret plant for the production of nuclear fuel or a storage facility for the wastes of the nuclear industry is being built near the villages of Tatla and Kuz-Elga.
Recently, from Professor M. Safarov's input that quotes, in turn, M. Shakirov, the former Communist Party Bashkir Obkom first secretary, a new version is appearing - - during all of these years a bunker was being built, there, in the restricted cities for the country's highest leadership in the event of a military threat.
We need to admit that all of these versions, like the official one -- on the construction near Beloretsk-Ural Mining Enriching Combine for the Extraction of Rare-Earth Elements -- were knowingly false due to a lack of complete and open information on the true mission of the construction by its managers.
And here for the first time Construction Chief-- Bashkortostan People's Deputy Leonid Akimovich Tsirkunov, who graciously agreed to visit the BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY editorial offices, responds to our questions after all these years.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] So, Leonid Akimovich, the first question -- what is the specific mission of the construction in the cities of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16?
[Tsirkunov] These will be State Reserve Fund warehouses for food and clothing storage. Food will occupy the main space. There's no secret at all here -- any self- respecting state has such reserves. By way of illustration, the press has also reported that the humanitarian aid that is coming in to our country right now from abroad, specifically from Germany, is nothing other than food assortments from precisely such state reserves.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] But then how do we assess the articles about the construction there allegedly of a bunker for the country's leadership?
[Tsirkunov] I officially announce the following in this regard: M.Z. Shakirov, who has already been out of work for a long time, promulgated his report that does not correspond to reality. Being the obkom first secretary, he could have observed only the preparatory phase of the work and at the same time variants of the design for the direct mission of the construction were being reviewed. M.Z. Shakirov had to have known that and therefore his unambiguous statement, that obviously introduces disinformation about the true state of affairs, causes surprise. Professor M. Safarov, not having other evidence for his version other than the former obkom secretary's statement, has begun to wave a dubious flag without troubling himself to ascertain the facts.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] And did M. Safarov have an opportunity to obtain the true information?
[Tsirkunov] I was prepared to meet with anyone and to provide information to each person who would approach me with the knowledge of M.G. Rakhimov, chairman of the Bashkiriya Supreme Soviet Presidium. Professor M. Safarov had the right to such a conversation. I can state that at this time a republic Supreme Soviet commission composed of four people is preparing to visit the construction site to ascertain its true mission with the subsequent full information of society.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] Therefore, all conversations about the radioactivity which allegedly saturates the facilities being built is, putting it mildly, conjecture?
[Tsirkunov] All of the surveys and measurements that have been repeatedly conducted and, incidentally, that were made by independent experts did not reveal any increase of the level of radioactivity with regard to the natural background.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] Leonid Akimovich, why was a rock-crushing factory built at the facility?
[Tsirkunov] It has already begun to operate and has begun to process hard rock that has been extracted from the warehouse construction sites. This crushed stone is quite good in many qualities and the demand for it is quite high in this region. Part of the dust wastes will be accumulated into a slag accumulator in order not to contaminate the environment. Incidentally, we have already built in the city of Beloretsk-16 and will soon complete in Beloretsk-15 the construction of powerful modern purification works that permit us to completely avoid any discharges into natural water sources.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] Why did two cities -- Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16 -- spring up?
[Tsirkunov] There's a simple reason. As is known, there isn't much water, more precisely, there are no surface sources in the local areas. Furthermore, the land areas here did not permit us to conduct the construction in one location -- there simply wasn't enough land in the environs of one city. Therefore, we originally planned to build a dam on the Malyy Inzer River in the area of the village of Berdagulov for the normal water supply of housing and utilities enterprises. We also located one small city there to service the reservoir and the main thing, as a result of the proximity in the former, most difficult times, of a railroad near the village of Tatla, with the goal of creating industrial facilities and unloading areas. Then, it was suggested to the searchers that the reservoir (dam) be close to the main city that was built accordingly for the residence of the builders and later the maintenance personnel of the warehouse management and also of the rock-crushing factory.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] Are military builders participating in the work?
[Tsirkunov] Yes, and we never made a secret of that. Subunits of military builders are laboring along with civilian organizations such as US-30.
[BELORETSKIY RABOCHIY] What are the prospects of the construction? Rumors are circulating that it is being covered and, incidentally, the Bashkiriya Supreme Soviet Chairman stated that while recently speaking on television.
[Tsirkunov] Everything depends on the Russian Government's decision. While expressing my personal opinion, I can say that at this stage of work we need to complete it because it is at least economically inadvisable to abandon the facility at this stage of construction readiness. Its conservation will require even more resources and time. But, I repeat, that is only my personal opinion.
So, we are presenting to our readers for the first time information on the mysterious construction project from the hands of the man who heads its construction. We hope that this article will permit the majority of our readers to fully clarify the many years of doubts, although we anticipate a few like the one, in our view, that open and complete information has not been satisfied. Well, in the near future we intend to talk in more detail about how the cities of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16 were built and the prospects for their development and problems.
Leonid Akimovich Tsirkunov assured us, journalists, that we will be able to visit the cities quite often and provide diverse information on their lives.
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