It’s hard to find anyone even remotely interested in Chernobyl Zone who hasn’t heard of the Russian Woodpecker – an over the horizon radar, part of the early warning system against intercontinental ballistic missiles heading towards the USSR. Not that many people are aware of a site hidden in the woods, over a kilometre in a straight line from the Duga radar.
Krug (Russian word for circle) was an array of antenna masts placed along a 200-m wide ring. It’s believed that its primary function was to probe the ionosphere and help with setting the optimal working parameters for the Russian Woodpecker. Systems like this could be found all over the Soviet Union.
On our last visit to the Chernobyl Zone we decided to check this site. It took as some time to find as the road is now covered in trees, leaves and bushes and looks more like a disused hiking trail than road to an important military site.
The antennas are cut and piled around their original locations and the control building has hardly any equipment left, but being so remote and difficult to access it was an interesting afternoon for us. The basement is flooded to about waist level so if it wasn’t for the layer of ice on the surface we’d need to give up on this explore. At the end of the underground corridor we found remains of the control panels covering the walls, with Russian words for Azimuth, Frequency and power meters, plus a board with smiling high-rank party officials in the “technical room”
Atom the dog, guardian of the Russian Woodpecker, followed us all day long so we shared our last bits of food with that good boy.