One of the most prosperous cities in Russia’s frozen north, the gas-rich Novy Urengoi, has just ruled that it will no longer be open to foreigners, and indeed, has its doubts even about Russian outsiders. It has decided to become one of the country’s secretive “closed cities”.
Under an edict issued last week, which came into force yesterday, any unauthorised visitor will be removed from trains by members of the FSB secret police 45 miles before drawing into Novy Urengoi. If you try to drive in without a special permit, you will be turned back and made to retrace your journey through Siberia.
It\’s that driving bit. For there are plenty of places in Siberia that are not actually connected to the road network. Rail and Air (and possibly river in the summer) transport being the only ways in or out. There are cars of course, and a road network in and around the town. But they are islands, there\’s no connections to the rest of the world.
Sure, I don\’t know about this particular place: but I wouldn\’t be surprised to find that there\’s no road connection to the outside world at all.
Back in the early 90s, this was true of Norilsk for example. Except they didn\’t even have a rail link. They had a railway but it only went to the nearest river. Which would melt and be navigable mid June, freeze in October. All the nickel and copper flooded out in those few months, all the supplies for 300,000 people barged up in them.
Vile, vile place and the only way in or our for people was by air……