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The Soviet Union’s nuclear program started soon after the end of the Second World War. Tests were conducted in many remote regions such as the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, the Urals and the steppes of northeastern Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, not all of these sites were devoid of human habitation.

One of the primary sites selected for testing was the 18,000-square-km Semipalatinsk Test Site, also known as "The Polygon", situated south of the valley of the Irtysh River, in Kazakhstan. Just 150 km east of the test site was the town of Semipalatinsk (later renamed Semey) with a population exceeding 100,000 individual. Hundreds of thousands more lived within an 80 km radius in numerous scattered villages.

semipalatinsk-test-site-1

Photo credit: sputniknews.com

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