SMOTR: "Nagurskoye" Outpost! (English subtitles)

Uploaded by BitnikGr on 16.12.2012

Even those with bad knowledge of geography know that such Land exists somewhere in the North.
Franz Josef Land.
They know it simply because there is no land farther than that, except of the North Pole.
There are 191 islands in total in Franz Josef Land's archipelago.
They were discovered by Austrian travelers in 70s of the 19th century.
A wooden steam boat, onboard of which they were searching for short route to the Pacific Ocean, got frozen into a big ice floe.
And it was drifting in seas and oceans. After all it was taken to the last land prior the North Pole.
Austrians of course were happy with such a discovery.
They named the islands with names of sponsors of their expedition and members of Austrian Emperor's family.
The entire archipelago got name of Kaiser of Austria, King of Hungary etc etc, Franz Joseph.
It's quite probable that no one would ever learn about this discovery,
but fearless Austrians were rescued just in time by Russian Captain Voronin and he delivered them to the mainland, closer to warm places.
All kind of people visited the area in next decades after discovery was made - Scotts, Americans, Germans, Norwegians, Soviet conquerors of Arctic.
The archipelago became a kind of test ground and a base of researchers and travelers.
The entire population of Alexander's Land Island is comprised by Border Guards of Nagurskoye Outpost.
While this board post is the most northern board post in the World.
Nagurskoye Outpost was formed here in 1976, and it was named like this after the polar pilot Yan Nagourskiy.
Franz Josef Land became an integral part of our country; the most northern territory of the country, which must be guarded.
- I command to move for guard watch of state's borders of Russian Federation. Officer on duty of the outpost. - Affirmative to move for guard watch of state's borders.
- To the right, for guard watch of Russian Federation's borders, march!
Don't think that border guards go to patrol with assault rifles and binoculars after this procedure,
and then they stand for the entire watch on the shores of Arctic Ocean staring in distance trying to spot a trespasser.
Service in this icy desert is quite specific.
- The outpost is the most uttermost in Arctic. We keep the Russian flag here and we provide security of our country in Arctic."
They don't walk out for protection of the borders, but they drive out with "Buran" snowmobiles and necessarily in pairs. It's more safe this way.
- In case if you meet polar bears, then take actions for your own safety.
- Use your weapons according Article 105 of the Law about State's Borders.
Of course polar bears are not the main factor of risk here, but the nature itself - an unpredictable and severe polar weather.
This one-storey construction, which is covered by snow up to its roof, is the only oasis of life in entire archipelago.
It is warm here. They have hot water and electricity here, while a real icy desert is all around them.
Summer lasts here only for one month. +11 Celsius degrees means unprecedented heat by local standards.
Permafrost rules here. 80% of the territory is covered with ice. It was relatively warm during our visit - just -22.
The wind however... constant, exhausting. 10m/s are considered as a light breeze. Real storms usually rage here.
The most strong gusts raid suddenly in absolutely clear sky and the shining sun.
And they cover the eyes with a solid veil of snowy scratchy dust.
It's a blizzard. Nothing is visible beyond distance of extended arm.
This phenomenon can last for an hour... or three days sometimes.
That's why soldiers drive out to guard state borders not only in very warm clothes, but with food supplies for several days.
If blizzard is rising, then they turn the snowmobile with its belly toward the wind
and they wait the storm out, while hiding behind the snowmobile.
- This way you can hold on three days. Till that time the snowstorm quiets down.
- So, you can return back.
There are 11 spots for observation and warming up which are organized on the entire island.
Routes of border guards patrols lay between them.
If bad weather catches them, then they get inside of those constructions, which resembles a lot hunters' lodges,
and they wait for the nature to calm down.
Blizzard can last even for a week, while vehicles have tendency to break down.
Then they walk back to the outpost on their own feet... by touch.
Nothing happens for nothing in the North, and even these old diesel barrels are placed here for a reason.
They are some kind of road signs here. During snowstorm or polar night, one can read needed direction by them.
Every direction is marked by specific signs. Specific barrel leads to the outpost from any spot.
Sometimes the routes cross each other,
but if you walk following barrels with wrung out stopper, then a barrel with a rock on its top is totally useless for you.
There are also tanks with a stuck pole and a small board out there.
- Many things have happened. I've heard a lot of stories about the outpost.
- I was thinking to fly somewhere far far away for my service. It was interesting for me to serve not anywhere, but on an island.
Andrey Chuev is a legendary personality... at least for the history of "Nagurskoye" outpost.
He is one of the 9 "foremost" border guards conscripts. They don't like the word "last" here, just like in the Navy and the Air Force.
- Anyhow, it's a pity that new people won't come here any more. It is much more fun, when someone new arrives.
Andrey and his comrades got to the archipelago more than a year ago.
He served well and very soon he will return back home.
We got to the outpost exactly on days when it was saying farewell to the conscripts.
Only contract soldiers will serve now from now on.
- People started executing their duties and tasks more responsibly. It is now simpler and more effective to work here. And much better.
We didn't have time to feel happiness for professional achievements of border guards in the Arctic,
when the Commander of the Outpost, First Lieutenant Maxim Nosov sounded the alarm.
- Wait, wait, wait. Turn it off and go inside. - What?
- Your nose started freezing.
The camera operator of our show has frostbitten his nose during conversation with the Commander of the Outpost.
But this wasn't the last case, when we understood that the warm is the most important condition for survival in Frantz Josef Land archipelago.
Border guards don't spare their efforts in order to keep the interior of the buildings warm.
It cannot be otherwise here.
It is vitally important to keep diesel powered electric plant working trouble-proof and to have enough snow for the snow-melting device.
- A regular day of the outpost consists of combat tasks for guarding of state's borders,
- and this includes provision of water, departure of patrols, arrivals of planes and maintaining discipline at the outpost.
Discipline at the outpost first of all means the warm again.
For the same reason they usually don't shut down the engines before they finish all works.
Wherever you go, either to clean the runway for coming airplane, either to the lake for fresh water,
the engine must work, until the vehicle gets back to the garage.
Such a wastefulness surprises initially,
but later, after half an hour out in the freeze, you warm yourself up inside of a warm off-road vehicle,
you understand that trying to save some fuel, you can literally freeze the people here.
Since recent times all long-range raids on Alexandra Land Island are conducted only with help of new off-roader "Tayga".
One of Russian machinery building company sent it to "Nagurskoye" outpost for field trials.
Ensign Sergey Kuznetsov sits behind the levers of this trouble-proof transport from the first day.
- The vehicle is good. Simple in maintenance. The cross-country capability is very good as well.
- We didn't meet any problems with it yet.
About 30 men serve today at "Nagurskoye" outpost. Wives of four officers with two small children also live here.
There is no TV. Radio is also absent.
Saunters are regulated by behavior and appetite of polar bears.
Essentially the entire population of Alexandra's Land is locked in four walls of the outpost's building.
Everyday, all month, all year long.
However, no intrigues, gossips and conflicts don't exist and can't exist here.
- As Commander of the Outpost I try to avoid such situations.
- I try to assign people to jobs and service tasks in such way, so they wouldn't see each other at least for one day.
- Gradually everything phases out from the memory.
- The second factor is that we are only 20 people here in total. So, we are just a big friendly team.
- If we have some problem here, then we solve it together. And if we have some joy, then we celebrate it together as well.
There are much more joys in "Nagurskoye" outpost than on the mainland.
At least border guards themselves think this way.
But what kind of joys? We will speak about it in our next show.
Good Morning Comrade First Lieutenant!
One wise man said once "If you want to know someone better, then live with him for a month on a desert island.
If you will look at him without disgust after this period of time, then he is your best friend."
The most northern outpost is located on Alexandra's Land Island.
People don't simply live here arm to arm, but they guard borders of our motherland.
How do they manage this? Watch in our exclusive report.
Probably aviation isn't so much beloved anywhere else like they love it on Franz Josef Land.
We mean the Military Aviation. Polar pilots are very unique people in general.
An-26 cargo plane flies from Archangelsk to "Nagurskoye" outpost almost 8 hours.
Of course it is not a liner taken from international routes. Refreshing drinks and a hot meal won't be served to you in this flight.
Only a duralumin bench with a pea jacket in order to make it soft is the only in-flight amenity here.
And a window of course. However, the sight from it isn't cheering at all.
Gloomy tundra first. Novaya Zemlya then.
And then you feel happy whenever you see pieces of Barents sea with snow white icy crumbs with background of dark lead waters.
Finally, here it is - a metallic letter "P" under native tricolor, in the middle of white Sahara - "Nagurskoye" Outpost.
Ships arrive here twice a year. One ship brings fuel. The other one brings food supplies.
An airplane is the only mean of communication with the outside World.
They don't count time here in days or months, but from one plane to the next one.
People of archipelago are happy for every coming plane so much, as people of small province town are happy when some big POP star comes to their town.
They start preparations for this event two days before supposed landing.
They clean the runway, which immediately gets covered by a snow dust.
They clean it again and again, until the moment when the silhouette of long awaited "truck" will appear in the skies.
- We feel happy when plane arrives with mail.
- That's the only joy we have here. When plane comes with news from the mainland, with something new.
- They brought flowers for women with this plane. That's a joy for them.
- They brought milk for children. That's a joy.
- They brought letters and parcels for soldiers. That's a joy.
- They brought salaries for contract soldiers. That's also a joy.
However, bringing this joy to Franz Josef Land is not a simple job. Strong wind blows here almost constantly.
Landing and take-off of the airplane requires high skills from the crew, but sometimes even they can't save a plane.
This plane was blown off the runway with such a force, that the strut of nose chassis broke through the floor in the cabin.
The weather was totally unsuited for flights at that day, but pilots took a decision to land,
because they had to transport a heavy ill man to the mainland urgently.
He was moved later by another plane, while this plane remained on the curb of island's airfield forever.
It's a custom here, that the dogs are the first ones who get to the just landed plane.
They know that pilots will present them with something tasty. And this became ritual became a must for the crew.
There are four grown up man's best friends at the outpost. And two more young ignoramus - Gressy and Mukhtar.
Due to their young age, however, they live in the warm corridor of the building for officer personnel.
And they go outside only under escort of humans.
Board guards can speak hours for every of their dogs.
- Communication with animals replenishes what we used to do... maybe not in full, but they are like a part of our home.
- On the mainland it might seems not important. Some people don't like either cats, either dogs.
- But this feeling is much more acute here. So, of course they are like team members, generally speaking.
- From the other hand living here without dogs... Did they tell you already that one dog was transported back from here.
- Because all of them have different characters and at least they warn us.
- According their barking with already know who came to us, an arctic fox or maybe a polar bear.
Visits of polar bears are the zest of personal video collection of outpost's officers.
Polar Bruin fears only the sound of working engine and dogs' barking. It doesn't take seriously a man with a rifle.
Thunder of assault rifles' bursts doesn't mean anything to it. Ice floes crack with same violence.
So, polar bears are population passed through baptism of fire gifted by the nature itself.
Meanwhile shooting to kill upon the King of the Arctic is prohibited by the Red Book and internal regulations of the outpost.
So, in winter times, when the main food of polar bears - walruses and seals - swim away to warmer waters,
"Nagurskoye" Outpost becomes a desired place for the bears, because border guards throw away so much of tasty stuff.
Meanwhile the space below the barracks is so suitable for a comfortable haulout.
- Yes. You can open the door in the morning and find it sitting right in front of it.
- Generally speaking and probably you've already been told that man is not a food for bears. He is a competitor for their land.
- So, frankly speaking, we are his guests here. He is the owner of this land.
Every appearance of bear to the people is a kind of show, which later will be discussed for a long time.
It impresses the most those people, who just arrived to Franz Josef Land archipelago.
- When we just arrived here... Maybe two days later we went to the garage to work there.
- We just got out of the door when I suddenly saw it walking not far away from the garage.
- The dogs drove them away from the outpost. I wasn't surprised very much. It was a bear, just like other bears.
- From the other hand it was quite interesting to see a polar bear live, cause I could see it only in TV before.
Old-timers of the outpost don’t feel such piety for bears.
Bears are just an integral part of the surrounding environment for them.
And hindrances for conscientious performance of their duties of course.
- No relations whatsoever. They come here. The dogs drive them away, so bears run away and that's all.
- There is nothing else to say. If come too close, then bear will of course jump on you.
- But if you don't touch it, then it doesn't touch you. Dogs will drive it away and it will go for a walk somewhere else.
Walking is one of the main entertainments of "Nagurskoye" outpost's inhabitants.
Especially after strong snowstorms, when people were locked inside buildings for weeks.
Any movement and any news are appreciated extremely high here.
Newspapers arrive here with delay of one month, but they read them from the first to the last page, including advertisements.
The gym is equipped with the most modern exercise equipment and it is not empty even at nights.
Plasma TV with home cinema is a gift from Command of Federal Boarder Guards Service and it works from morning till evening.
People watch new movies many times over here.
However, the main luxury at Franz Josef Land is a simple human communication.
- All of living conditions exist here. The problem for me... I'll speak solely about me... the problem is an information vacuum.
- Because you get used to live in some specific information space. You get used to receive a specific amount of news every day.
- Besides that, everything necessary for living exists here. My husband is here, my kid is here. So, I personally don't have problems.
There are only 4 ladies at the Outpost. They are wives of officers and ensigns.
Two of them serve as Signal Service soldiers. Another two are in maternity leave.
The wife of the Outpost's Commander, Galina Nosova, hadn't lack of attention while living on the continent.
She is a historian by the first of her university degrees and she is a lawyer by the second one.
But it was only here, on Franz Josef Land, where she was surrounded with so warm attention, that she really felt herself as the better half of humanity.
- If you have noticed, women here are called by their First and Father names.
- Not because it is determined by service regulations, but because it is accustomed here this way.
- They feel a need to take care of someone too. They bring candies or something else.
The most correct comparison would be to compare these women with wives of Decembrists.
However, ladies Volkonskaya, Trubetskaya, Anenkova were able to buy houses even in exile, to open secular saloons,
to order trendy dresses and even grand pianos from Petersburg.
Wives of border guards can not do that, because of lack of means and money, but they are happy anyway.
- You can be so happy when you simply cook a borsch for your husband and you see him every day.
- This is very hard to appreciate when you live in civilization.
- Many of my girl friends don't understand how happy they are.
- You don't appreciate things you got used to, but things which amaze you. And that's why it's very pleasant here.
Probably a human starts understanding how few things he needs to be happy, only in such Spartan conditions.
- What a joy to get to hair saloon. You simply sit there doing nothing.
You also start understanding how much is redundant in our lives. Things, which prevent you to live a sterling life.
Children of border guards know all letters of the alphabet when they are 2 years old, and they even try to read by themselves.
They get ill very rarely. Permafrost doesn't predispose to the flu and other URTI. Microbes are afraid of such a climate.
Children get their everyday walks. This tempering ritual isn't kept only in the harshest blizzards.
- We are harsh border guards. We live on the very edge of the World. We guard the most northern borders.
The weather on this day was the best suitable for a walk. Wind almost didn't exist.
That's why take-off of the airplane, which would take our film crew back, was also approved without delays.
Nine historical demobee soldiers were leaving the place together with us.
Only contract soldiers will serve in "Nagurskoye" Outpost since this day.
Commander of the Outpost Maxim Nosov said good bye to his subordinates on the runway. He shake hands with everyone of them.
We were going to leave Franz Josef Land. People there, on the edge of the World, will now discuss about us and wait for our next visit.
Meanwhile we will miss those amazing people, who can maintain the warmest human relations in the middle of permafrost.
Relations, without which the most difficult mission of those people, to guard the most northern borders of the country, would be impossible.