When the USSR collapsed in 1991 the past 70 years did not fade suddenly away in a snap. The Soviet legacy has been present, enduring and ongoing since then. Kazakhstan has inherited a heavy and specific one: polygons. Polygons are military sites of undetermined size where the Soviet army tested and improved its armament: ballistic missiles, nuclear bombs, bio weapons or chemical ones. Semipalatinsk was the nuclear test-zones during 40 years, exploding more than 456 atmospheric and underground nuclear bombs. Today there are two main impacts of this polygon on people: those who survive on scrap metal sales and those who die due to radiations and a lack of prevention.

A ‘goose’, atmospheric test site

Semipalatinsk atmospheric test-site

Subway on nuclear test-site

Viktor, 11, lives in Shagan

'Geese' measured nuclear explosions

Inst. Radiation Safety and Ecology

Atomic kitchen garden

Shagan's 'Pentagon'

Evgueny, 33, lives in Shagan

Digging up metal, Shagan

Digging up pipes, Shagan

Metal scrapping, Shagan

Vova, 15, Shagan

Worker in Shagan

Scrap metal buyer's house

Ira, 61, and her grandson Almat

Kurchatov Museum

Inst. Radiation Safety and Ecology

Oncology Center, Semey

Inst. Radiation Safety and Ecology

Oncology Center, Semey

Zhanur, 19, sick due to radiations

Medical Academy Museum, Semey

Medical Academy Museum, Semey

Asiljan and Amina, microcephals

Irtysh River on a Sunday