Hidden away from Western eyes, Kazakh city still bears traces of Cold War era

Hidden away from Western eyes, Kazakh city still bears traces of Cold War era

Stepnogorsk played key role in Soviet nuclear arms program during Cold War

By Meiramgul Kussainova

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AA) - The city of Stepnogorsk in Kazakhstan's central Akmola region has a unique history as a city that Moscow hid from the West during the Cold War era.

Built from scratch as a secret project of the Soviet Union in 1964, Stepnogorsk played a key role in the country's nuclear arms due to its proximity to the world's largest discovered uranium deposit.

Uranium produced at the Stepnogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine played an important role as the Soviet Union managed to catch up with the US in its number of nuclear weapons.

Stepnogorsk, located in the then-Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, bears traces of the Cold War era, with every building in the city containing shelters situated meters underground in the case of a possible nuclear attack.

The city also stands out as the only Kazakh city where traditional Soviet architecture is preserved, while train services from the Soviet era, known as Matalka among locals, are still in operation.

*Writing by Burc Eruygur in Istanbul

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