One thing is clear: Soviet military sites was not a free space to roam around let alone take photos. Especially Soviet missile bases was the top secret area and people with even the slightest stains in the history like tendency for fist fights or drinking or any kind of other excessive or non-exemplary behaviour were never selected. This was the most serious post you could ever get – to deal with the nuclear missiles. Of course no talking around was tolerated either, and you could get KGB knocking on your door the very next day. The secrecy in these sites was so overwhelming that during drills no lights were used. The military turned off even the blackout lights. These ones are equipped with special lenses that are designed to reduce the light beams to the minimum so that no one can spot your movements at night. So the security measures did not leave room for compromises.

Having said that it is really surprising to see this photo taken at Zeltiņi. What you can see here is MAZ-543 missile carrying vehicle that were widely used for short- and medium-range (exactly what you could find in Zeltini) ballistic missiles back in the Soviet times. Photo cameras were strictly forbidden in the area of the base. The possession of such a photo would translate into big trouble for the owner and leaving the unit would be the mildest of the consequences.

Zeltini Latvija

However according to sources, this photo was taken in 1984 and it was the time when even the soldiers serving in the most secret units were gradually giving way to a more careless behaviour. They sometimes secretly took photos and later brought them home where they got developed. Later these memories proudly decorated many photo albums of the former servicemen.

By the way, the hero you can see in this shot is MAZ-543 or later MAZ 7310 also known as the “Hurricane”. Production of these missile carrying vehicles started in 1960s after being “promoted” from having to carry around tanks – this is what its “father”, MAZ-537, was in charge of.  Later with entering the civilian life its range of applications virtually exploded. It became an airport firefighting truck, crane, drilling rig, pipeline carrier and even a regular dump truck. It has proven to be such a good breed of “horse” that it is also the choice of the North Korean leader when it comes to parading his own missiles.

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