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Despite the fact that thousands of people were living in these Soviet closed cities, officially they did not exist – residents who went out of town were forbidden to reveal where they lived, under pain of criminal prosecution.

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For example, Sarov was a center of nuclear weapon development during the Soviet era and remains one of the most important cities for Russian science today."There were no universities in my own small town, and the university in Sarov attracted me by the fact it was involved with physics and mathematics, which I was interested in," said Irina.

After graduating from the university, she stayed in Sarov to work at the local enterprise, associated with the Rosatom corporation, which is engaged in projects in the field of nuclear energy.

But as compensation for the harsh regime, the residents of closed cities received an additional 20 percent to their salary.

In addition, food supplies in ZATOs were much better than in conventional cities; for example, the residents could easily buy sausage, which was in short supply at the time.

Nuclear reactors, plants manufacturing nuclear bomb components, nuclear power research centers – all of them were located in "closed administrative territorial entities" (ZATO).

Over time, the Defense Ministry and spacecraft developers also received their ZATOs.Some locals see boredom as the downside of living in a closed city."In Severomorsk, for example, you have nothing to do in your spare time at all,” said Roman, who used to live in this closed city (the base of the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet, 900 miles north of Moscow)."When I was a child, the word 'city' was synonymous with something protected," said Konstantin."People from outside, including former prisoners, swindlers and beggars, cannot get in.At the age of six, when we went with the family to another city, I saw an old woman begging in the street for the first time – for me it was a real shock."In addition, it is convenient to study and work in closed cities for those associated with the city's industry.In the late 1940s, a new kind of city appeared in the Soviet Union for the first time.

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