The border between Kazakhstan and Russia is 4,254 miles long. It assumed its current shape in 1930, and became an international border in 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved. Along this border were closed cities—restricted military zones—that had been concealed from the public at large. These cities, Priozersk (formally known as 'Moscow 10') and Kurchatov (“The Polyglon”), did not appear on any maps until “discovered” by Google Earth.
During the Cold War, these cities became the sites for covert testing of nuclear weapons and long distance weapons. Kurchatov was the site of more than 400 tests. The government claimed it was uninhabited, but that was a cover story. Locals played a vital role in the project, as scientists silently documented the effects of radiation and pollution on them and their livestock. Not surprisingly, Kurchatov has the highest incidence of cancer anywhere in the world.
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Photo: Priozersk XIV (I Was Told She Once Held An Oar), Kazakhstan 2011. ©Nadav Kander. Courtesy Flowers Gallery.