The town of Korzunovo, forgotten service place of Yuri Gagarin

Korzunovo is a small town 30 kilometers from the Norwegian border, and almost uninhabited after the Red Army garrison there was decommissioned. Some people are still living in the ruined town, refusing the offer of better accommodation in nearby Murmansk.
However, it's a little-known fact that Yuri Gagarin, the world's first cosmonaut, served for three years at the military air-base located nearby.
In summer 1965 Yuri Gagarin, by then a famous cosmonaut, made a visit back to his former base at Korzunovo. He'd studied at this same School Number 7, which has a small museum in his honour.
Tourists from Norway, Finland, Britain and other countries come every year. Official delegations of Russians come too.
The people in Korzunovo have fond memories of the past, the grocery stores with “deficit” in the Soviet era goods, the community of young comrades-in-arms, the long Polar Day, when no-one wanted to sleep until morning.
In 1998, when the regiment was posted from Korzunovo to Severomorsk, no shops at all were left – nor the airfield, from which you could fly to Moscow for peanuts in the old days.
The fact of Korzunovo's existence is down to the work and sacrifice of its people. Persistence and determination have made its military families their own special kind of people, bred from nostalgia, a fear of uncertainty, habit, exhaustion, and a desire to live at peace with the world.
The low temperatures haven't just preserved the village – but time itself, frozen in the era of its Soviet relics.
Perhaps their still-undiluted Soviet patriotism helps them to shrug off the cold and darkness, believing in their heroism – and that their deeds have been achievements. But their sacrifices no longer command the slightest official recognition – no medals, no Northern Hardship allowances.
Russia has nearly 20,000 ghost towns – places once built to serve strategically important locations or rich mineral deposits whose significance was later downgraded as unnecessary.
The usual scenario: the incipient death of towns which were born during Soviet central planning, grandiloquent building projects or the Soviet electrification scheme.
The implosion of the USSR left many enterprises without viable funding – nor could patriotism, the carburettor of Soviet progress, kept them going.
The provocative label of “dead town” smothers a thousand human tales of departure, relocation, and many-year waits in the hope of a flat in a new city.
A move to a new city isn't unusual nowadays. Yet unlike the majority of immigrants, people who come from ghost towns have no home to go back to.
There are almost more online communities about ghost towns, than there are ghost-towns. Even so, there's almost no information about particularly this town of Korzunovo.
The sun here fails to rise above the horizon – but that's the way it is in the Polar Night. After two hours of hazy twilight the darkness sets in once again. When the moonlight fades, Korzunovo once again becomes a line of dark shapes of houses with empty windows.

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