Closed cities of the USSR

These cities were not on the maps. Their residents gave nondisclosure subscriptions. This is where the Ebola virus was tested and the atomic bomb was born.


Soviet ZATOs received their status in connection with the deployment there of objects of state importance related to the energy, military or space spheres. It was practically impossible for an ordinary citizen to get there, and not only because of the strictest access control, but also because of the secrecy of the location of the settlement. Residents of closed cities were instructed to keep their place of residence in strict secrecy, and even more so not to disclose information about secret objects.

Such cities were not on the map, they did not have a unique name and most often bore the name of the regional center with the addition of a number, for example, Krasnoyarsk-26 or Penza-19. The numbering of houses and schools was unusual in ZATO. It began with a large number, continuing the numbering of the settlement to which the inhabitants of the secret city were "assigned".

The population of some ZATOs was at risk due to the proximity of hazardous facilities. Disasters also happened. Thus, in 1957 in Chelyabinsk-65, a large leak of radioactive waste endangered the lives of at least 270 thousand people.

However, life in a closed city had its advantages. As a rule, the level of improvement there was noticeably higher than in many cities of the country: this also applies to the service sector, and social conditions, and everyday life. Such cities were very well supplied, they could get scarce goods, and the crime rate there was practically zero. For the costs of "secrecy" to the base salary of residents of ZATO, a premium was charged.

Zagorsk-6 and Zagorsk-7

Sergiev Posad, which until 1991 was called Zagorsk, is known not only for its unique monasteries and temples, but also for its closed towns. The Virological Center of the Research Institute of Microbiology was located in Zagorsk-6, and the Central Physics and Technology Institute of the USSR Ministry of Defense was located in Zagorsk-7.

Behind the official names the essence is a little lost: in the first, in Soviet times, they were developing bacteriological, and in the second - radioactive weapons.

Somehow in 1959, a group of guests from India brought smallpox to the USSR, and our scientists decided to use this fact for the good of their homeland. In a short time, a bacteriological weapon based on the variola virus was created, and its strain called "India-1" was placed in Zagorsk-6.

Later, endangering themselves and the population, scientists at the Research Institute developed a deadly weapon based on South American and African viruses. By the way, it was here that tests with the Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus were carried out.

It was difficult to get a job in Zagorsk-6, at least in the "civil" specialty - an impeccable purity of the biography of the applicant and his relatives was required almost up to the 7th generation. This is not surprising, since they have repeatedly tried to get to our bacteriological weapon.

In the military stores of Zagorsk-7, where it was easier to get to, there was always a good selection of goods. Residents from neighboring villages noted a striking contrast to the half-empty shelves of local shops. Sometimes they made lists to centrally procure groceries. But if officially it was not possible to get into the town, then they climbed over the fence.

On January 1, 2001, the status of a closed city was removed from Zagorsk-7, and Zagorsk-6 is closed to this day.


After the Americans used atomic weapons, the question arose about the first Soviet atomic bomb. It was decided to build a secret object for its development, called KB-11, on the site of the village of Sarov, which later turned into Arzamas-16 (other names are Kremlin, Arzamas-75, Gorky-130).

The secret city, built on the border of the Gorky Region and the Mordovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, was quickly put on a strengthened security regime and was surrounded by two rows of barbed wire and a control and trail strip laid between them along the entire perimeter. Until the mid-1950s, everyone lived here in an atmosphere of extreme secrecy. KB-11 employees, including family members, could not leave the restricted area even during holidays. An exception was made only for business trips.

Later, when the city expanded, residents had the opportunity to travel to the regional center on a specialized bus, as well as receive relatives after receiving a special pass. Residents of Arzamas-16, unlike many fellow citizens, learned what real socialism is.

The average salary, which was always paid on time, was about 200 rubles. The shelves of shops in the closed city were bursting with abundance: a dozen varieties of sausages and cheeses, red and black caviar, and other delicacies. Residents of neighboring Gorky never dreamed of such a thing.

Now the Sarov nuclear center, formerly Arzamas-16, is still a closed city.


Another city "born by order" was built around the plant # 814, which was engaged in uranium enrichment. At the foot of Mount Shaitan, which is north of Sverdlovsk, for several years the GULAG prisoners and, according to some sources, Moscow students have been working tirelessly. Sverdlovsk-45 was immediately conceived as a city, and therefore was built very compactly. It was distinguished by the orderliness and characteristic "squareness" of the building: it was impossible to get lost there. “Little Peter, ” one of the guests of the city once put it, although to others his spiritual provinciality resembled patriarchal Moscow.

By Soviet standards, people lived very well in Svedlovsk-45, although it was inferior in terms of supply to the same Arzamas-16. There was never a crowd and a stream of cars, and the air was always clean. The residents of the closed city constantly had conflicts with the population of the neighboring Nizhnaya Tura, which was jealous of their well-being. It used to be that the townspeople leaving through the watch would be watched and beaten, solely out of envy.

It is interesting that if one of the residents of Sverdlovsk-45 committed a crime, then there was no way back to the city, despite the fact that there was a family in it.

Secret objects of the city often attracted the attention of foreign intelligence. So, in 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down not far from it, and its pilot was taken prisoner.

Svedlovsk-45, now Lesnoy, is still closed to casual visitors.


Mirny, at first a military town in the Arkhangelsk region, in 1966 was transformed into a closed city due to the nearby Plesetsk test cosmodrome. But the level of closeness of Mirny turned out to be lower than that of many other Soviet ZATOs: the city was not fenced with barbed wire, and documents were checked only on access roads.

Due to the relative accessibility, there were many cases when a lost mushroom picker or an illegal who entered the city for a scarce commodity suddenly turned out to be near secret objects. If no malicious intent was noticed in the actions of such people, they were quickly released.

Many residents of Mirny call the Soviet period nothing more than a fairy tale. “A sea of ​​toys, beautiful clothes and shoes, ” one of the residents of the city recalls her visit to the Children's World. During the Soviet era, Mirny became famous as the "city of strollers". The fact is that every summer graduates of military academies came there, and in order to cling to a safe place they quickly got married and had children.

Mirny retains its status of a closed city even now.