By Tim Gamble
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Russia, both as the old Soviet Union and as the current Russian Federation, places great emphasis on national civil defense. In fact, the need for an active, organized civil defense program is enshrined in a number of federal laws passed since the collapse of the old Soviet Union in 1991. Planning and oversight of all civil defense activities is conducted by the Ministry of Emergencies of Russia since 1994. The Ministry of Emergencies has created various regional, inter-regional and federal crisis management centers which coordinate the day-to-day work of civil defense.
A 1961 Time Magazine article described the Soviet Union's civil defense program this way:
"In contrast to the U.S.'s desultory interest in civil defense, the Soviet Union is well advanced on a thoroughgoing program to protect its people against nuclear attack. The Soviet government has built shelters by the thousands and organized elaborate training programs, reported the Rand Corp.'s Leon Gouré, leading U.S. authority on Soviet civil defense, at a civil defense conference last week at the University of California at Los Angeles.The Soviet civil defense effort is expanding steadily on a compulsory basis. "Once the Soviet government makes a decision of this sort," said Gouré, "it does not have to ask for public support or popular approval." Under directives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, all units right down to collective farms and apartment houses are required to organize so-called volunteer self-defense groups consisting of 48 trained fire fighters, shelter attendants and first-aid workers for every 500 residents. A claimed 22 million Soviet citizens—10% of the whole population-serve in these formations. Since 1955, these units have carried through three compulsory training courses for all citizens. This winter, says Gouré, the Soviet Union is giving every urban citizen between the ages of 16 and 55 an 18-hour course in how to protect himself against nuclear attack and how to behave in shelters. "Soviet shelter facilities," says Gouré, "are the most extensive anywhere." They range from concrete installations in every factory to the root cellar under every peasant hut."
Civil defense lessons in Russia began in the 1930s, and was mandatory for all citizens, from babies to the elderly. Elementary school kids were taught how to make homemade protective masks, as well as first aid and how to "hide" from the shock wave of nuclear blasts and radioactive fallout. Public lectures and training were arranged on a regular basis. Citizens were required to know how to quickly put on a gas mask (they were timed, with a required efficiency of under 12 seconds). Special attention was paid to psychological training, and people were taught to stay calm and act according to instructions during an emergency.
Current Russian civil defense includes emergency warning systems, bomb shelter programs, evacuation plans for large cities, disguising various facilities, and first aid and medical training. In 2016, Russia held a national nuclear war drill across the country involving approximately 40 million Russian citizens, at least 200,000 emergency service personnel, and 50,000 pieces of equipment (article in The Sun).
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Cresson H. Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills is available on Amazon. This is the highly-recommended classic nuclear war survival guide commissioned by the US government. The paperback of the 1987 edition is available on Amazon for just $10.39 at the moment. There are newer, and more expensive, editions available at that same link. Folks, in my opinion it doesn't matter what edition you get, as the physics of nuclear war haven't changed, and the information originally presented by Kearny is not "out of date." Choose whichever edition you are comfortable with.