In 1970, Yuri Smirnov a WWII hero, began working at the Kola Super Deep Borehole (KSDB). A Soviet megalomaniac endeavor launched on the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin meant to dig to the center of the earth. The project was conducted near the northernmost settlement of Zapolyarniy, in the arctic tundra of the Kola Peninsula. 19 years later, at 12,000 meters KSDB became the deepest hole in the world. Yuri, as a project leader, was celebrated by institutions in Soviet Union and around the world including the New York Academy of Science.
His success did not come without cost, due to remote and enduring living conditions, his wife gave him an ultimatum, “Its me or the hole”. Yuri chose the hole. His spouse and children left him.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, two years later, religion made a comeback. In Zapol-yarniy, rumors were spread about a microphone recording sounds of hell at the bottom of the hole. Conspiracists tied catastrophic events such as war in Afghanistan, nuclear reactor meltdown in Chernobyl and the collapse of the USSR to the work at the station.
In 2005 the project was completely shut down and dismantled for scrap metal. With his communist ideals and his dreams shattered, alone and unable to leave the arctic due to health conditions, Yuri remained the self appointed guardian of the hole.
Before his death in June 2018, late Yuri Smirnov, distributed communist flyers campaigning against local technocrats and saving his pension to buy an apartment to house a museum dedicated to his life’s work at the station.