"Right to the Button"
The "nuclear suitcase" draws in for 100,000 rubles a month.
"From here, lads, our homeland dictates its unyielding will to the rest of the world's community." Thus Sergey Artsibashev's hero spoke about our army to recruits in a well-known film comedy, while pointing to a ballistic missile launcher. MK'scorrespondent visited the site, about which one can say the same words with a clean conscience -- the Central Command Post of the Russian RVSN [Strategic Missile Troops], which is located in a "secret" place in suburban Moscow. Last Sunday the TsKP [Central Command Post] celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The first thing that surprises an outside observer is how close together a daily, routine life and a place where a nuclear war can be led are. The train station in suburban-Moscow Odintsovo is on an ordinary route. The passengers pay the usual 25 rubles for the trip. Mama explains to her son that he needs to go to kindergarten and that all of the children are already there. Grandmother complains about the high price of cherries. A young man sitting in a rear seat tells a friend that he is in ecstasy. Suddenly, the route stops at the KPP [checkpoint], a soldier opens the door, and all of the ordinary passengers show him their passes for the specially-guarded territory.
The city in which the TsKP is located is walled off from the rest of the world not only with fences and a checkpoint, but by a dense forest. There are many green areas and a lake within the city itself, and every day the soldiers maintain model cleanliness on the streets. Compared with gas-polluted Moscow, this is definitely a corner of paradise.
But those who built this place were not thinking at all about paradise. A two-story building stands behind yet another checkpoint. Modest letters proclaim over one of the entrances: TsKP RVSN. Behind the door a soldier checks passes. Behind him a stairway leads down to a three-level, underground bunker. Here the missilemen have performed their watches without interruption for a half century already. Here they are always ready to give the order to deliver a nuclear strike. An American missile is always aimed here.
Pinned to the chests of the officers on duty at the facility are red badges with mysterious abbreviations like DSBU-11B or ST.OF. PUS. The thing is that various groups of specialists work in the bunker. Some exercise direct leadership and control over RVSN subunits, others keep track of communications, and still others are responsible for the correct functioning of the vital needs of all systems. A total of up to a thousand persons can be in the underground command center, and the badges are used to distinguish the workers of various services.
The main hall is located in the center of the bunker. Several displays, an electronic annunciator board, and tracking sensors occupy one of the walls. On the other side, behind the control panels sit the watch-shift officers. All...