Where did they go?

13262148_10154860924287366_127707781_oAfter the remaining radars of Skrunda-1 were shut down in the autumn of 1998, it took about a year for the military to dismantle them and take back to Russia. Majority of the residents of Skrunda-1 followed suit. These people can be divided in two groups. Part of the officers were lucky enough to get jobs in similar military towns all over Russia where they kept working on and around early warning radar installations. The most popular destinations were Solnechnogorsk just 60 km outside Moscow and Serpukhov-15 – about twice as far to the south-west from the Russian capital. The former is the control centre for the Russian anti-missile radar network. In other words this is the place where all the data from the radars is accumulated and assessment is made whether the threats are real enough to call up Putin and let him decide for or against a nuclear counterattack.

Speaking about threats, the other one, Serpukhov-15 is, by the way, the place where the famous 1983 incident took place. During the grimmest time in the US-Soviet relations after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the satellite early warning network detected at first one and then four American missiles heading for the Soviet Union. Only the clear mind of the officer on duty that night saved the world from all-out nuclear war as he correctly dismissed the warning of the system as false.

However the rest of the officers were not that lucky and had to start a new life. At the same time, they could consider themselves somewhat luckier than the lower-ranking military personnel as the Russian government would cover 80 % of the cost of a new apartment in whichever city they would choose to live. Bulk of them of course chose Saint Petersburg. Moscow was not that popular. The ones that did not settle in either of the two Russian megacities or any of the military towns, went for a myriad of locations, some of them moving from one place to another even several times before finding their new home. There were also those who started a new life in other former Soviet countries, for the greatest part in the neighbouring Ukraine and Belorussia.

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