A closed city or closed town is a settlement where travel or residency restrictions are applied so that specific authorization is required to visit or remain overnight. Such places may be sensitive military establishments or secret research installations that require much more space or freedom than is available in a conventional military base.[ citation needed ] There may also be a wider variety of permanent residents, including close family members of workers or trusted traders who are not directly connected with clandestine purposes.
Many closed cities existed in the Soviet Union from the late 1940s until its dissolution in 1991. After 1991, a number of them still existed in the CIS countries, especially in Russia. In modern Russia, such places are officially known as "closed administrative-territorial formations" (закрытые административно-территориальные образования, zakrytye administrativno-territorial'nye obrazovaniya, or ЗАТОZATO for short).
Sometimes closed cities may only be represented on classified maps that are not available to the general public. In some cases there may be no road signs or directions to closed cities, and they are usually omitted from railroad time tables and bus routes.
Sometimes closed cities may be indicated obliquely as a nearby insignificant village, with the name of the stop serving the closed city made equivocal or misleading. For mail delivery, a closed city is usually named as the nearest large city and a special postcode e.g. Arzamas‑16, Chelyabinsk‑65. The actual settlement can be rather distant from its namesakes; for instance, Sarov, designated Arzamas-16, is in the federal republic of Mordovia, whereas Arzamas is in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (roughly 75 kilometres (47 mi) away). People not living in a closed city were subject to document checks and security checkpoints, and explicit permission was required for them to visit. To relocate to a closed city, one would need security clearance by the organization running it, such as the KGB in Soviet closed cities.
Closed cities were sometimes guarded by a security perimeter with barbed wire and towers. The very fact of such a city's existence was often classified, and residents were expected not to divulge their place of residence to outsiders. This lack of freedom was often compensated by better housing conditions and a better choice of goods in retail trade than elsewhere in the country. Also, in the Soviet Union, people working with classified information received a salary bonus.
Closed cities were established in the Soviet Union from the late 1940s onwards under the euphemistic name of "post boxes", referring to the practice of addressing post to them via mail boxes in other cities. They fell into two distinct categories.
The locations of the first category of the closed cities were chosen for their geographical characteristics. They were often established in remote places situated deep in the Urals and Siberia, out of reach of enemy bombers. They were built close to rivers and lakes that were used to provide the large amounts of water needed for heavy industry and nuclear technology. Existing civilian settlements in the vicinity were often used as sources of construction labour. Although the closure of cities originated as a strictly temporary measure that was to be normalized under more favorable conditions, in practice the closed cities took on a life of their own and became a notable institutional feature of the Soviet system.
Movement to and from closed areas was tightly controlled. Foreigners were prohibited from entering them and local citizens were under stringent restrictions. They had to have special permission to travel there or leave, and anyone seeking residency was required to undergo vetting by the NKVD and its successor agencies. Access to some closed cities was physically enforced by surrounding them with barbed wire fences monitored by armed guards.
"Mailbox" was the unofficial name of a secret Soviet facility much like the closed city, but smaller, usually the size of a factory. The "mailbox" name was usually classified, as were the activities there. Incoming mail was addressed to "Mailbox #XXXX", thus the name of "mailbox". Most Soviet design bureaus (OKB) for weapons, aircraft, space technology, military electronics, etc. were "mailboxes".[ citation needed ]
Russia has the largest number of closed cities. The policy of closing cities underwent major changes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The adoption of a new constitution for the Russian Federation in 1993 prompted significant reforms to the status of closed cities, which were renamed "closed administrative-territorial formations" (or ZATO, after the Russian acronym). Municipally all such entities have a status of urban okrugs, as mandated by the federal law.
There are currently 44 publicly acknowledged closed cities in Russia with a total population of about 1.5 million people. 75% are administered by the Russian Ministry of Defense, with the rest being administered by Rosatom.Another 15 or so closed cities are believed to exist, but their names and locations have not been publicly disclosed by the Russian government.
Some Russian closed cities are open for foreign investment, but foreigners may only enter with a permit. An example is the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI), a joint effort of the United States National Nuclear Security Administration and Minatom, which involves in part the cities of Sarov, Snezhinsk, and Zheleznogorsk.
The number of closed cities has been significantly reduced since the mid-1990s. However, on 30 October 2001, foreign travel (without any exceptions) was restricted in the northern cities of Norilsk, Talnakh, Kayerkan, Dudinka, and Igarka. Russian and Belarusian citizens visiting these cities are not required to have any permits; however, local courts are known to deport Belarusian citizens.
Krasnoyarsk-26 in Siberia, researched for the subject of Sidney Sheldon's 2001 fictional murder mystery-romance The Sky is Falling,was planned in 2003 to be shut down by 2011, in co-operation with the U.S, and documented by their Natural Resources Defense Council, but actually closed in 2008.
The number of closed cities in Russia is defined by government decree (see links further). They include the following cities. Reasons for restrictions are denoted in the descriptions below.
Republic of Bashkortostan
Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
There is a list of territories within Russia that do not have closed city status, but require special permits for foreigners to visit.The largest locality within such territory is the city of Norilsk.
There were two closed cities in Estonia: Sillamäe and Paldiski. As with all the other industrial cities, the population of them was mainly Russian-speaking. Sillamäe was the site for a chemical factory that produced fuel rods and nuclear materials for the Soviet nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon facilities, while Paldiski was home to a Soviet Navy nuclear submarine training centre. Sillamäe was closed until Estonia regained its independence in 1991; Paldiski remained closed until 1994, when the last Russian warship left.
Tartu, home to Raadi Airfield, was partially closed. Foreign academics could visit the University of Tartu, but had to sleep elsewhere.
Moldova has one partially closed city: the village of Cobasna (Rîbnița District), which is under the control of the unrecognized state of Transnistria internationally recognized as part of Moldova. The village, located on the left bank of the Dniester river, contains a large Soviet-era ammunition depot guarded by Russian troops.Only the Transnistrian and Russian authorities have detailed information about this depot.
Ukraine had eighteen closed cities.
During the period of communist rule in Albania, the towns of Çorovodë and Qyteti Stalin (now Kuçovë) were closed cities with a military airport, military industry and other critical war infrastructure.
The Frontier Closed Area (FCA) is a fenced stretch of land along the northern border of Hong Kong, which serves as a buffer between the closed border and the rest of the territory. For anyone to enter the area, a Closed Area Permit is required. Between 1951 and 2012, it contained dozens of villages over an area of 28 square kilometres. Upon several stages of reduction, by 2016, the border town of Sha Tau Kok remains as the only settlement within the FCA.
Within the Korean Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea are two "peace villages" (one maintained by each nation): Daeseong-dong (South) and (possibly) Kijŏng-dong (North). Access by non-residents to Daeseong-dong requires a military escort, while Kijŏng-dong is not accessible to visitors.
The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center sits within a closed city that occupies 24.8 square kilometers (9.6 sq mi).
Between 1957–1962, a large share of the US territory was closed for Soviet citizens. These areas included, but were not limited to, the east coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina (excluding areas around Miami and Savannah); the majority of the Texas triangle; most of the California coast (excluding portions of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles), the entire states of Washington (excluding Spokane), Delaware, Rhode Island (excluding an area around Providence), and Hawaii; roughly half of Tennessee (including the city of Nashville); a large portion of Pennsylvania (excluding an area around Philadelphia); the southern half of Illinois; Long Island (except Queens and the area around Oyster Bay); four counties in northern Alabama; the Virginia coast; all of Maryland (except the panhandle, and two disconnected areas around DC and Baltimore); Southern Louisiana(excluding New Orleans); the Great Lakes (excluding Cleaveland, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls for Lake Erie, the majority of the Michigan portion, Gary, Chicago, Milwaukee, and areas north of Sheboygan county in Wisconsin for Lake Michigan, and Calumet, Michigan for Lake Superior); and eastern Michigan (excluding some areas around Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw). Only 7 states were accessible in their entirety: Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, North Carolina, Arkansas, Vermont, and Mississippi.The map used in the references does not specify Alaska or the territories (coincidentally Alaska became a state from a territory during this period).
Chelyabinsk is a city and the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is the seventh-largest city in Russia by population, with 1,130,132 inhabitants as of the 2010 Census, and the second largest city in the Ural Federal District, after Yekaterinburg. Located in the northeast of the oblast, 210 kilometers (130 mi) south of Yekaterinburg, the city is just to the east of the Ural Mountains. It sits on the Miass River, part of the border between Europe and Asia.
Chelyabinsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia in the Ural Mountains region, on the border of Europe and Asia. Its administrative center is the city of Chelyabinsk. Its population is 3,476,217..
Sarov is a closed town in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia. It was known as Gorkiy-130 (Горький-130) and Arzamas-16 (Арзама́с-16), after a (somewhat) nearby town of Arzamas, from 1946 to 1991. Until 1995, it was known as Kremlyov/Kremlev/Kremljov (Кремлёв). The town is closed as it is the Russian center for nuclear research. Population: 92,047 ; 87,652
Sillamäe, is a town in Ida-Viru County in the northern part of Estonia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. It has a population of 13,666 and covers an area of 10.54 km². Sillamäe is located at the mouth of Sõtke River.
As the collapse of the Soviet Union appeared imminent, the United States and their NATO allies grew concerned of the risk of nuclear weapons held in the Soviet republics falling into enemy hands. The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program was an initiative housed within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The CTR program is better known as the Nunn–Lugar Act which was authored and cosponsored by Sens. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). This Act was created in 1986 in a congressional meeting. According to the CTR website, "the purpose of the CTR Program is to secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction and their associated infrastructure in former Soviet Union states." An alternative explanation of the program is "to secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction in states of the former Soviet Union and beyond".
Magnitogorsk is an industrial city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located on the eastern side of the extreme southern extent of the Ural Mountains by the Ural River. Its population is 407,775 (2010 Census).
Naukograd, meaning "science city", is a formal term for towns with high concentrations of research and development facilities in Russia and the Soviet Union, some specifically built by the Soviet Union for these purposes. Some of the towns were secret and were part of a larger system of closed cities in the USSR, many built by forced labour from the Soviet Gulag. In the Russian Federation in post-Soviet times, the term is used generally for about seventy towns that have concentrations of scientific research and production, and specifically, refers to a small number of towns that have been recognised for their scientific capabilities and hence get special privileges.
Snezhinsk is a closed town in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. Population: 48,810 (2010 Census); 50,451 (2002 Census).
Ozyorsk or Ozersk is a closed city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. The population was: 82,164 (2010 Census); 91,760 (2002 Census).
Kyshtym is a town in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located on the eastern slopes of the Southern Ural Mountains 90 kilometers (56 mi) northwest of Chelyabinsk, near the town of Ozyorsk. Population: 38,942 (2010 Census); 41,929 (2002 Census); 42,852 (1989 Census); 36,000 (1970).
Laboratory B in Sungulʹ was one of the laboratories under the 9th Chief Directorate of the NKVD that contributed to the Soviet atomic bomb project. It was created in 1946 and closed in 1955, when some of its personnel were merged with the second Soviet nuclear design and assembly facility. It was run as a sharashka – a secret scientific facility run as a prison. Laboratory B employed German scientists from 1947 to 1953. It had two scientific divisions, radiochemistry and radiobiophysics; the latter was headed by the world-renowned geneticist N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij. For two years, the renowned German chemist, Nikolaus Riehl was the scientific director.
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zababakhin Russian: Евгений Иванович Забабахин; January 16, 1917 in Moscow, Russian Empire – December 27, 1984 in Snezhinsk, Soviet Union) was a Soviet military engineer, theoretical physicist and one of the chief designers of nuclear weapons in the USSR. Amongst many others, he was involved in the first Soviet nuclear bomb (RDS-1) and the design of the first Soviet two-stage hydrogen bomb (RDS-37).
The Kyshtym disaster, sometimes referred to as the Mayak disaster or Ozyorsk disaster in newer sources, was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a plutonium production site for nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant located in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40 in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union.
Yuri Alexeyevich Trutnev was a Russian theoretical physicist, nuclear engineer and Emeritus Professor of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI. He worked on the RDS-37, the RDS-220 and many other nuclear charges.
The Nuclear Cities Initiative is an initiative which purports to support the now struggling community and structures of post-USSR nuclear research, aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation.
Plastovsky District is an administrative and municipal district (raion), one of the twenty-seven in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It is located in the center of the oblast. The area of the district is 1,751.76 square kilometers (676.36 sq mi). Its administrative center is the town of Plast. Population : 8,624 (2010 Census).
The All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) is a research institute based in Sarov, Russia and established in 1947. During the Soviet era it was known as KB-11 and All-Soviet (All-Union) Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics. It is currently part of the Rosatom group.
Vyacheslav Petrovich Feodoritov (February 28, 1928 - January 2, 2004) was a Russian nuclear physicist, engineer and mathematician. He was a co-designer of the first two-stage Soviet thermonuclear device, the RDS-37, and became a chief of laboratory at Arzamas-16, now known as the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics.
Yevgeny Nikolayevich Avrorin was a Soviet and Russian theoretical physicist and nuclear engineer, and Scientific Director at the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre (RFNC). He was a co-developer of the RDS-37, the first Soviet two-stage thermonuclear bomb, and many other nuclear devices.
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bibikin was a Soviet design engineer, a specialist in the development of nuclear weapons, and a USSR State Prize Laureate (1971).
See 25 minute video of Felicity Barr's interview of Nadezhda Kutepova.
Mecca, like Medina, is closed to non-Muslims
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