Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

The earliest guess for the beginnings of the catacombs in the Ukraine is about the 1600’s. It could be earlier than that but it’s hard to date back as they were also widened later on. They became the giant labyrinth of today when in the early 1800’s the limestone was used from them to build much of the city.

The myriad of tunnels led to it being popular for hideouts, rebels and criminals could use them and during WWII they Soviets were forced out, but were able to leave Soviet-organised Ukranian’s hidden down there. They were able to listen in to the Nazi forces above and set up a situation where they managed to blow up German facilities. It wasn’t all good news as malaria and malnutrition affected those men and women.

The Facist German and Romanians chose random exits, sealing them off and and dropping poisonous gasses down them. When the war was over the criminals claimed the tunnels and created new ones of their own. In 1961 a group was formed, they wanted to map and document the geography and history of the place.

It is common for groups of explorers to go into the area, occasionally people do go missing and if they are in the area the explorers will rally to help. A number of children have been rescued this way but sadly it hasn’t always turned out positive. Old weapon caches and grenades are sometimes found, every five years or so a body is found and on rare occasions they have been naturally mummified there too. Many are old bodies but sometimes more recent accidents have turned up a corpse as well.

A sad example of this occurred 15th January 2005, the local teens were partying in the tunnels. A girl called Masha was separated and lost during the drunken celebrations. For 3 days she walked around in the pitch black and freezing conditions, where she then expired due to dehydration. It was two years later the police located her body and could retrieve it.

There is an official area that can be visited and perhaps given the warnings of lost people and random body finds, I’d recommend going there before being too bold.

Odessa kat 01.jpg
By Полищук Денис Анатольевич – Own work, CC BY 2.5, Link

 

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So its that time! Time to look at communication, specifically an old over-the-horizon radar system called the Duga from the former Soviet Union (Russia/Ukraine for the purposes of this article.) Over The Horizon (OTH) or Beyond The Horizon (BTH) are radar systems for long range use. Most were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s because they were early warning systems, just think about the Cold War and the idea of it being a necessity; the ones I am looking at here are the Duga system but they were used all over the world and still are, if modern reports online are correct. I am no expert so correct me where you can if I get things wrong.

The system operated from July 1976 up until December 1989, there were two deployed in Chernobyl and Chernihiv. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine and Chernihiv is Siberian. They were powerful and appeared without warning, sounding like a repetitive tapping on 10Hz, they became nicknamed by the listeners as the Russian Woodpecker.

They seemed to pop up pretty randomly and could interrupt legitimate broadcasting and all variations of stations. Complaints were sent in about them but I can’t imagine it being easy to prevent them. Some of the radio and television users began including blockers in the circuit to try and filter out interruption.

The first type of Duga was built in the Ukraine and did successfully detect rocket launchers from 2,500 kilometres. With its success they worked on the larger project. The first signal was picked up in 1976 and amatuer radio users gave it the name woodpecker, some people had reported it as early as 1963. Regardless of the date the Russian Woodpecker was traced back to the Soviet Union. The sources were found in Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel and Chernihiv but eventually narrowed down through speculation has been made that there was more than one transmitter. Wireless World, 1977 muses that along with the OTH system the Russians might be trying to utilise radar returns or another source that worked along side it, or around two or more spots.

I wondered if this was plausible or were we just putting more technical knowledge to that in retrospect or are we accepting that NATO might not have been entirely accurate? The NATO name for DUGA-1 is quoted as STEEL YARD, some sources also use STEELWORK. It is officially recorded name may well be different but not disclosed for security purposes.

Some points of interest are that they realised when listening that it was not used as a form of jamming because Moscow and pro-Soviet Stations were also caught by it, so it couldn’t be reliable enough for that. The signal used three repetition rates of 10Hz, 16Hz and 20Hz, but the most common was 10. They used a fairly wide bandwidth, usually 40Khz.

An attempt to stop the signals causing interruptions came along, one of the ways was tor try and use signals at the same pulsing rate, people formed a club called The Russian Woodpecker Hunting Club. The transmissions slowed down in the 1980’s by 1989 they had disappeared. This slow down and eventual end does coincide with the Cold War closing down, the official end being 8th December 1971 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Another factor in the close would be a further advancement in early warning systems, satellite systems are far more advanced and less likely to be affected by adverse weather.

The original Duga system was experimental and it lies outside of the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. It was restored in 2002 after it was badly damaged by fire. As of October 2013 there is a possibility to visit the Ukrainian site via tour operators for Chernobyl who know how to get the correct paperwork.

For those who like modern reference here are some ways the Duga has been imported into modern media.

If, like me, you enjoy games like Metro Last Light or S.T.A.L.K.E.R then you may already know this… Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a heavy feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R and specifically around the nuclear accident. The Duga array is in Clear Sky after the main campaign game. It is in the fictional city of Limansk-13 you can see it and visit it in game. The ‘Brain Scorcher’, a military installation, is inspired by the idea that Duga-1 was used for mind-control.

Call of Duty:Black Ops the map ‘Grid’ is placed in Pripyat and the array can be seen in game there too.

A documentary by Chad Garcia looks into the Chernobyl disaster and the potential links to the structure. The documentary interviews people directly involved in the building and operation of the installation.

It is an urban legend from Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Mongolia and was more widespread in the 60’s and 70’s.  The story involves a Black Volga Limousine (or in some tales Black Ambulance) with white wheel trims, white curtains or another white element on the vehicle.

It is said that the Black Volga abducted people and there are several variations to do with the driver, from priests, nuns, vampires to Satan himself. The victims were kidnapped for blood to be used as a cure for westerner’s or Arabs suffering from Lukemia.  Again another variation says that were KGB taking kidneys/organs instead.

The legend resurfaced in the late 20th Century with a BMW/Mercedes in it’s place. In this version the driver would ask passers by for the time. When they came close enough to the car they would be marked for death.