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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Vorkuta, Komi Republic

Vorkuta was one of Stalin’s cruelest Gulag camps. Vorkuta – a labor camp-cum-city - was built from nothing on an icebound wasteland by political prisoners from 1931 to 1957. Today, the city is still a byword for the suffering of the ill-equipped labor brigades that were effectively sent to their death as Stalin used his enemies – both real and imagined -- to tap into vast natural resources in the uninhabited Far North.

Vorkutlag, the city's Stalin-era labor camp, once heaved with political prisoners from so many countries that it earned the droll nickname of the "capital of the world." Today, it still has a retro Soviet feel. Vorkuta's central Lenin Street is adorned with signs exhorting citizens to mine more coal for the motherland. Banners from the ruling United Russia party call on citizens to "build the future together."

From 1931 to 1957, 2 million prisoners from the U.S.S.R. and 21 other countries passed through the Gulag system here. Local historians say there are 200,000 political prisoners buried in the permafrost in marked and unmarked graves. Despite this dark history, there is a strong current of Soviet nostalgia here. The Communist Party marshals a strong following.

Today, the Gulag is long gone and yet more than half a century later, Vorkuta has become a prison for a new generation unable to find a way to leave. Many say they lack the money to move away and are trapped in this remote and declining coal town, suffering from the legacy of a Stalinist experiment 60 years after he died.

In the 1990s, many young people left to find work elsewhere as eight of the town's 13 coal mines closed, reducing some suburbs to wind-blasted ghost towns. The government helped relocate those who lost their jobs; pensioners moved in with relatives in the south if they had them. Others relocated under a program sponsored by the World Bank.

The city's population plummeted from 217,000 in the late 1980s, to 96,000 today. Many of those who remained, especially after the 1998 financial crisis wiped out many Russians' savings, simply lacked the means, opportunity, or wherewithal to get out.

A federal resettlement program to move families south was set up in the 1990s. But the program is massively oversubscribed and the resettlement rate is painfully slow. According to a 2011 count, there were 2,179 disabled persons, 12,802 pensioners, and 7,028 working-age citizens waiting to receive accommodation below the Arctic Circle from the state. In 2016, only 117 pensioners were reportedly resettled. At that rate, it will take more than a century to resettle everybody who is waiting.

Vorkuta command-and-control station

On August 20, 1965 Chief of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces Marshal of the Soviet Union MV Zakharov signed a directive on the creation of the Vorkuta command-and-control station. On September 7, 1965, the directive of the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, Marshal of the Soviet Union, N.I. Krylov on the beginning of the practical formation and deployment of the unit. By the mid-1960s, a number of parts that had been created in the late 1950s to support the launch of the first artificial Earth satellites, the first manned spaceflight, had successfully operated spacecraft missions for several years. Vorkuta command-and-measurement point can be attributed to the "second wave" of the CEC units.

Voronezh High Depot Readiness (HDR)

By late 2013, Russia had begun deploying troops of the East Kazakhstan region in the Arctic and building a radar warning system for a missile attack in the Far North (in Vorkuta). In 2013, the radar station of high factory readiness in Armavir was put on alert, which fully compensated for the termination of the operation of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan. The creation of new radar stations in Irkutsk and Kaliningrad was nearing completion, and radar stations were being established in the areas of the cities of Yeniseysk, Orsk, Barnaul and Vorkuta.

The troops of the aerospace defense plan to deploy in five years a network of stations warning of a missile attack. A step-by-step transition to dislocation of missile warning systems is being implemented only on the territory of Russia and the creation of a continuous radar field of a ground level warning of a missile attack is being completed. Radar stations had been set up in the regions of Yeniseysk, Orsk, Barnaul and Vorkuta.

The completion of the first phase of the construction of the technological position of the VZR radar in the Krasnoyarsk Territory made it possible to conduct the installation of the technological building and the antenna system of the product in a timely manner, and the past construction work on the technological position of the VZG radar in the Altai Territory ensured the beginning of installation of the product metalware from October 2013.




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