2 Abandoned Island with Bio Warfare Polygon

Abandoned Island with Bio Warfare Polygon

Posted on April 2, 2014 by tim


The Soviet center for testing biological weapons on a godforsaken island in the Aral Sea existed for about 45 years. The town has a school, shops, a post office, a dining room, science labs, and, of course, a polygon, where extensive testing of deadly biological agents, including anthrax, the plague, tularemia, brucellosis, and typhoid, was carried out. In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, Soviet troops left the town and the polygon  among the sands of the dying Aral Sea.

Back in the late 1920s, the Red Army command took care to select a location for the research center for the development of biological weapons and the grounds for testing . The struggle of the proletarian world revolution was still real, and the missiles with deadly strains could reinforce that idea. It was necessary to find a large island, a considerable distance from shore (at least 5-10 kilometers). Looking for a suitable candidate, they settled on three locations : The Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, The Gorodomlya islands on Lake Seliger and Renaissance Island in the Aral Sea .

The main center for the study before World War II was located in the Tver region, Gorodomlya island, close to the capital of the USSR. In the years 1936-1941, there was a “Third Test Laboratory” , the main Soviet center for the development of biological weapons. However, the Great Patriotic War (World War II) demonstrated convincingly that such institutions should be built far from  the borders of the USSR.

Renaissance Island was perfectly suited for this task. This desolate piece of land in the Aral Sea, on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was settled in 1848. It is a lifeless archipelago, where there was no fresh water, after the war it became a top-secret Soviet base, or polygon, which was used for testing deadly diseases.

This island is about 200 square kilometers at a glance, and satisfied all the safety requirements: almost uninhabited surroundings, flat terrain, and a hot climate that is not suitable for the survival of pathogenic organisms.

The first expedition of military biologists led by Professor Ivan Velikanov, father of the Soviet bacteriological program, landed there in the summer of 1936.  In the next year, they tested some biological agents that are based on tularemia, the plague and cholera. The works were complicated due to a period of repression, and some leaders of the Military chemical control of the Red Army were killed by the NKVD (precursor to the KGB).  Velikanov, for example, was shot in 1938. The works were also suspended for the duration of World War II, and resumed again with even greater zeal after the war had finished.

The Military settlement Kantubek, officially known as “Aralsk-7″ was built in the northern part of the island. In general, it was like the other hundred cantonments in the Soviet Union: a dozen residential houses, officers and scientific staff, a club, a canteen, a stadium, shops, barracks and a parade ground, and its own electric power station. This is how Aralsk-7 looked to the American spy satellites in the late 1960s.

Near the town, a unique airfield “Dune” was built, the only one in the Soviet Union that had four runways making it look like a compass rose. As strong winds were always blowing on the island and changed direction often, depending on the current weather, the aircraft could be landed on a particular runway.

Up to a thousand soldiers and their families lived there. It was a regular garrison life, features of which were special secret buildings and operations, and a not too comfortable climate. Children went to school, their parents worked, and in the evenings citizens watched a movie in the Officer House, while on the weekends a lot of people went for picnics on the shores of the Aral Sea, which until the mid-1980s really felt like a sea.

The best days of Kantubek (Aralsk 7). There was a regular marine trading route with the nearest town on the “big land”, Aralsk. Barges brought fresh water here, which was then stored in special huge tanks on the outskirts of the town.

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2 Responses to “Abandoned Island with Bio Warfare Polygon”

  1. Dag says:

    and that explains all of the new diseases today

  2. MAXDMG says:

    It would be interesting to go there. Very apocalyptic looks) And surreal, too, not every day that you see the ships in the wilderness.

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