Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Quietly Inspecting Soviet-Era Bomb Shelters Nationwide – Bloomberg

Bomb shelter in Moscow. Gennady Gulyaev / Kommersant

Russian authorities have quietly launched inspections, repairs and cleanups of bomb shelters nationwide that have laid dormant since the end of the Cold War, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the efforts.

The unannounced campaign for state workers to check Soviet-era basement shelters in apartment buildings, schools and government offices alongside other protected areas is not motivated by specific threats or plans to use Russia’s civil defense infrastructure, the people were cited as saying. 

But it reflects the Kremlin’s existential view of the war and its broader militarization of society as the invasion of Ukraine nears the nine-month mark, Bloomberg said. 

The inspections are also motivated by the chaos seen during Russia’s “partial” mobilization — its first since World War II — this fall, with Bloomberg reporting that “the authorities are taking no chances with other war-related preparations.”

Mikhail Vinogradov, the founder and president of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, said the campaign’s secrecy makes it difficult to determine who exactly ordered it.

“This looks like a federal order,” he was quoted as saying. “But it could also be an effort by all these civil-defense agencies to demonstrate their usefulness and that they’re actually doing something.”

The only public confirmation of preparations came from influential Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev in late April, when he ordered a full inventory of bomb shelters and their return to federal ownership in regions near the Ukrainian border.

Previous independent media investigations into Russia’s estimated 16,500 bomb shelters found that many of them have been converted into bars and beauty salons and rented out by intermediaries. Their locations, meanwhile, are classified and hidden from the public.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more