Category: USSR

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Russian Reflections

This photo was taken in St Petersburg and shows a reflection of one of the most iconic sights in this city, namely the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood … what a name in the current circumstances! (But its name is actually a reference to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.)

Secondly, I know in the West all eyes are currently on Ukraine and especially the Ukrainians, who are suffering the most in this ongoing war, and I naturally feel for them too. But my heart also bleeds for Russia – for various reasons I will

Nuclear Threats

Sunday’s announcement that Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on “high alert” really knocked me off balance. You see, I’m a child of the Cold War … I came of age in the early 1980s, at the very height of the Cold War, one of its most dangerous phases, in fact. I became increasingly aware that any minute could be my last. I’m somewhat reminded of that feeling now. Although there are significant differences: for one thing,

Dark Tourism in the Literally Dark – Vienna’s Central Cemetery by night

Last Saturday I joined an exclusive guided group tour of the grand Central Cemetery (‘Zentralfriedhof’) in Vienna that took place after dark. I had visited this vast burial ground several times before and cover it extensively on my main DT website. Now I was able to add another, even literally darker element to it. On the basis of that I’ve amended my website’s entry for the cemetery a little and added a few extra photos to the photo gallery.

Here on the DT Blog I can give you a fuller report and a much more substantial photo essay – here we go:

Dark Tourism & Flames

As indicated at the end of last week’s blog post about the “Stans”, I now give you a themed post next, namely DT & Flames. It’s a topic that ran a couple times in the theme polls over the past 18 months (here, here and here) but never won. Now I’m just posting it anyway. And that’s because it follows on so neatly from the parts about the Darvaza flaming gas crater in Turkmenistan that was featured in last week’s post, and included photos like

Dark Tourism & Mining

This is another theme post, and again not the result of a poll but half promised in the previous blog post and then requested in a comment in response to that post. So here we go.

In terms of dark tourism, one of the prime places associated with mining has to be Butte in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, USA. It became a boom town in the 18th and 19th century thanks to its rich deposits of

Dark Tourism & Hands

The most recent theme poll didn’t have any winner by last Sunday, but one vote came in late and nudged ‘Hands’ ahead of the other three. So I’ll feature this theme first, but the others will come up here at some later stage as well.

The first photo – featured above – was taken at Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which features plenty of beautiful Gothic elements, but this pretty hand with cobwebs, a detail of a full-body statue, is one of my favourite hand photos of them all! Beautiful and a bit spooky at the same time.

Another favourite is this next one, taken at the fabulous

Duga

As promised in the previous blog post about Chernobyl in general, I now give you a separate post with another photo essay from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but this time concentrating on a single location within it: the fabled Duga over-the-horizon radar array.

It was part of the Soviet Union’s Cold-War-era early-warning systems supposed to detect the launching of missiles aimed at the USSR. Its location close to the Chernobyl NPP is apparently

A Former Republic’s Ex-National Day

On this day, 7 October, the former GDR (in the West aka ‘East Germany’) used to celebrate the anniversaries of its founding on that date in 1949. It managed to get to its 40th anniversary in 1989 – but that was at a time when severe cracks in the state’s regime were already more than apparent. A few weeks later the Berlin Wall fell and just days before it would have been the 41st anniversary of the GDR’s founding, the state had ceased to exist on 3 October 1990 (see this recent post).

I used to mark this day, “Tag der Republik” in GDR parlance (literally ‘day of the republic’), on my former

Nagorno-Karabakh in Trouble again

There has been extremely worrying news the last few days from a little-visited region in the Caucasus that was included in my trip there ten years ago – Nagorno-Karabakh. Apparently the ‘frozen conflict’ over this contested region has flared up again and escalated into military confrontation and fighting, with already over a hundred dead, so it’s worse than the last time around in 2016. Moreover, now Azerbaijan is receiving open backing by Turkey, while Armenia is banking on support from Russia. So this has the potential to spiral into a full-on proxy war (as nearly happened in Syria a few years ago).

A little bit of background: Nagorno-Karabakh was a