Skrunda-1 can sometimes puzzle its visitors. One reason would be the Russian symbols that can still be found in couple of places in the town like the famous inscription “Glory to the Motherland” alongside Russian flag and the double-headed eagle serving as a wall decoration. Symbols connected to former Russian Empire were banned during the Soviet times. Karl Marx himself argued that workers do not have a fatherland. The same internationalism was later “marketed” by Bolsheviks in pre-Soviet Russian Empire. So, why so distinct nationalistic symbols in a truly Soviet environment? Well, it has to be noted that Skrunda-1 was socialistic only until the fall of the Soviet Union. The military settlement continued its existence after the workers’ empire had already been buried. It was no longer the Soviet Union but the newly founded Russian Federation that called the shots in the town for the next 8 years. Symbols changed. Of course some things remained like the eternal Lenin’s statue in the centre of the town.
Another symbol that persistently continued to adorn the town was a lavishly decorated large metal Soviet star with a picture of the Kremlin in the centre. This, of course, did not have to change as the capital of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation happened to be the same, and the seat of the government stayed where it was. However, what was not removed by the officials, found itself in the hands of Soviet heritage hunters. Nowadays we are left only with photos.
Visiting the town after Latvia regained the independence, did offer a surreal feeling. As a visitor of the town in the 90s mentioned in his memories of the place, crossing the checkpoint was like crossing a border – you left Latvia and entered a completely different world that apart from flags had missed the end of the Soviet times. This feeling was reinforced by the constant supervision the visitors experienced. Latvian government officials were especially closely monitored being escorted by even four Russian officers at once. This was their territory and their rules until the dying days of October 1999.