At about 3pm on the last Monday in April 1986, a mass of black clouds unleashed a sudden downpour on the sleepy western Russian town of Novozybkov, sending participants in a rehearsal for that year’s May Day parade running for cover. The wind was strong, and the rain an unusually torrential, 40-minute downpour, but Sergei Sizov, a professor at the local teacher-training college, thought nothing of it until delivering a lesson the next day on one of the more outlandish responsibilities of educators in the Soviet Union – detecting and responding to nuclear and chemical attack. “The class was called ‘nuclear and chemical reconnaissance’, and it basically involved showing [students] how to use a military grade Geiger counter,” he said. “It was just something everyone was meant to know, like stripping a Kalashnikov.” But instead of registering the expected trace of background radiation, the dial surged to levels Sizov had only seen in text books about nuclear attack. Alarmed and confused, he immediately called the local civil protection headquarters.
Stuff.co.nz 11th April 2016 read more »