One of the most secret Soviet objects was closed by a decree of Boris Yeltsin twenty-three years ago. It was situated in a remote region of the country that used to be huge – on the island in the center of the Aral Sea.
The island had a complex that was used for creation and testing one of the most barbaric weapons – biological ones. Many years are gone as well as the Aral Sea and the island… but that ground is still there as a ghost.
A Kazakh journalist and blogger Grogoriy Bedenko shared unique materials from his own archive uncovering the phenomenon of object “Aralsk-7”.
Here’s one of the most popular photos of the ground on Vozrozhdeniya Island taken by an American recon satellite KH-9.
This is how the Aral Sea looked like in the 1960s. The red arrow points Vozrozhdeniya Island, its area was 260 square kilometers then, it was isolated from any life by the large size of the sea.
Today it looks different: practically no water and no island. The white line is the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
There is only a small strait between Vozrozhdeniya Island in the south and Kulandy peninsular in the north.
Big water remains only in the north – just because of the construction of the Kokaral Dike.
And this is where Kantubek village and “Aralsk-7” object is located.
The ground is marked with a star, in fact it’s a unique field airdrome built from four concrete strips. It allowed aircraft to land in any weather conditions.
The ground consisted of three main zones – 1 – airdrome, 2 – dwelling zone, 3 – remote and enclosed laboratory zone.
The concrete slabs have been removed from all the strips.
Some of them are neatly piled aside. The island didn’t avoid theft by looters. A lot of valuables have been taken away from there.
Administrative and dwelling zone. The buildings are dilapidated.
1 – soldiers’ barracks and headquaters; 2 – dwelling zone for officers and their families.
Boiler houses. The laboratory complex required much steam to maintain operation of autoclaves for equipment sterilization. And as you can imagine, there were no sources of drinking water on the island, it was brought there by special barges.
Half-ruined laboratory zone. Being two kilometers away from the administration building it was protected by several lines of barbed wire.
Three-storey building of the main laboratory. The most hazardous experiments with biological weapons were done here.
The way to the ground starts at the former peninsular Kulandy that has a large aul and a farm for breeding horses and camels.
Some experiments of the secret lab were carried out on horses supplied by this very farm.
Vozrozhdeniya Island and the pier for vessels delivering fresh water and other cargo.
Today the ground belongs to two independent states – Kazakhstan (pier and support base) and Uzbekistan (airdrome, administrative zone and the lab).
Looters were stealing from the neighboring state and never were punished. At that time (since 1992) the ground was not guarded at all.
Military ships protected the ground.
Patrol boat of project T-368 built in 1973.
The barge that used to deliver fresh water.
The strange structure with a complicated ventilation system.
This house was built in 1963.
This was an officers’ club and a movie theater.
In fact the story of the ground began back in the 1930s with the arrival of an expedition under the lead of a famous Russian bacteriologist Ivan Velikanov. He came to find out if bubonic plague could be used as a weapon. However professor Velikanov was arrested in 1937 by NKVD, his research was sustained until the beginning of the сold war.
Entry to the dwelling zone.
Dwelling zone. The houses built from silex bricks are preserved better than others.
The view of the administrative zone: we can see barracks and the headquaters.
In the late 70s – early 80s the population of the island grew to 1,500 people. They could have a comfortable living here.
In 1972 the Soviet Union joined the so-called “Covenant of Nixon” – an international document forbidding development, research and testing any kinds of mass destruction weapons. However neither the U.S. nor the USSR stopped the research.
The stool on the balcony of an officer’s flat.
1992 was a terrific year for those who lived here, the evacuation was carried out so fast they had to leave all valuable stuff on the island – furniture, washing machines, TV sets, refridgerators etc. Probably the people were promised they would come back but it never happened.
Underground in the lab complex.
They used to have three taps – with cold and hot water and the third one – with a disinfectant.
Blasting chambers. Here they infected test animals with a biological sprayed agent and watched what was happening.
The blasting chambers are located on the second floor of the complex behind the heavy hermetic doors.
The room with no windows.
The chamber made in 1974 intended for work with radioactive materials.
The window for passing through the materials.
Here they probably packed biological weapons.
This one is especially interesting!
It says “Hazard! T -37, T +27”. According to specialists the temperature of -37C is optimal for storage of bubonic plague strains, while +27C – is the best for anthrax.
Decontamination center for men.
They were leaving so fast that forgot to remove the surnames of those people who were responsible for particular sections.
“Hazardous! Do not enter!”
We can only guess what was burnt here in the furnace…
Those soldiers who demobilized in 1990 are 46 today.. Probably they could tell enough about this place but signed a life-long pledge of secrecy…
The room for experiments – everything is painted the unpleasant green color.
The lab complex inside.
And this is how it looks from outside.
In the period from 1995 to 1998 Vozrozhdeniya Island was visited by Americans whose purpose was to collect the maximum possible amount of samples from the island. The U.S. paid $6 million dollars to Uzbekistan for the visit.
God bless you!