This project is an ongoing research into closed cities within the Russian Federation, with a focus on Zheleznogorsk, in Siberia. This closed town, 60 Km north of Krasnoyarsk in central Russia, - also known under code-names Krasnoyarsk 26, Soctown, Iron City, the Nine, - was founded in 1950, when in response to the unfolding East-West arms race, Stalin decided to create dozens of centers of research and excellence development in the USSR.
In the heart of the Siberian Highlands, and in all secrecy, prisoners from the Soviet GULAG built a maze of corridors and halls in the mountain and all facilities for the production of plutonium, and space research, as well as a whole Stalinistic secret city. In 1954 Zheleznogorsk was officially recognized.
Secret cities are known as zakrytye administrativno-territorial'nye obrazovaniia (ZATO). These geographical areas were (and some still are) separated from other urban areas, self-contained, and protected by fences and guard forces. To contain the secrecy Soviet leaders created communities of nuclear families who could be living in highly subsidized limited-access plutopias. Large numbers of highly qualified scientists and researchers were concentrated in these places. There were no maps or marks on maps of these cities. It reflects the character of the Soviet system and the organization of these cities is a natural expression of Soviet’ emphasis on secrecy and hiding.
With Glasnost and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of these cities were opened and the slow process of breaking down the barriers of secrecy began.
Zheleznogorsk though stayed closed (!) until today, by veto of the population in 2000. It is still fenced and guarded and it requires a special permit for entrance. Only some villages, which formerly belonged to the ZATO, are now open for Russian citizens