070317 Audio – RELEASED by InsidesMusic

070317 Audio

Insidesmusic (USA), release 070317 Audio:

Reaction to spending three months in the former Soviet Republic of Latvia as artist-in-residence. Not speaking either official language of Latvian or Russian made life confusing. Complied using: mobile phone field recordings from both my home city, London, and Riga; output from experiments using and combining speech translation software with BBC digital radio broadcasts received in Riga, from the UK, via the Internet.

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Kurzeme: Skrunda

The small town of Skrunda, 150 km from Riga in Latvia, was the site of two Hen House radars built in the 1960s. The 60-meter structure was to have been one of the most important Soviet stations for listening to objects in space; Soviet early warning radars.

Pursuant to an agreement “On the Legal Status of the Skrunda Radar Station During its temporary Operation and Dismantling”, signed by Latvia and the Russian Federation on 30 April 1994, the Russian Federation was been allowed to run the Hen House station for four years, after which it was obliged to dismantle the station within eighteen months. The deadline for dismantling was 29 February 2000. Russia asked Latvia to extend the lease on the Dnepr station at Skrunda for at least two years, until the new Daryal station under construction near Baranovichi became operational. Riga rejected these requests, and the radar was closed on 04 September 1998.

In a joint New year statement, the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania urged Russian President Boris Yeltsin to complete the pullout of all Russian troops from the region, as promised, in 1994.

All materials of value where stripped from the site, leaving the concrete remains of the 60 buildings that comprised the former complex. The area is now a nature reserve.

Kurzeme: Vainode

Vainode formely home to 3000 Soviet troops and three R-16 R-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (SS-5). Each 30 meter long and with a range of 13,000 km. Launch could take place with 30 mins after a direct order by telephone from the Cremlin. The reported targets where Holland, Belgium and Luxemborg. In the event of a launch being required, the concrete dome would slide across from the slio on rails. The facility was built for a one time use; it was disposiable once the missiles were launched.

The R-16 was a true first-generation missile and a vast improvement over the largely experimental ‘zeroth’ generation R-7, but it was still inferior to contemporary American missiles. On normal duty the missiles were stored in hangars, and it took one to three hours to roll them out, fuel them, and reach launch readiness. The missiles could remain fueled for only a few days due to the corrosive nature of the nitric acid fuel oxidant. After this, the fuel would have to be removed and the missile sent back to the factory for rebuilding. Even when fueled and in an alert posture, the Soviet missiles still needed to wait up to twenty minutes to spin up the gyroscopes in their guidance systems before launch was possible. Despite these shortcomings, the R-16 was unquestionably the first truly credible rocket based strategic nuclear deterrent developed by the Soviet Union.

Kurzeme: Embute

A day of Military Tourism to former bases of The Strategic Rocket Forces A major division of the Soviet armed forces that controled land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

The tour started at Embute. A Soviet jef fighter base built in the 1960s. The facility also includes a full size run-way.

Riga to Liepāja (Karosta)

The 9th International Festival for New Media Culture moves to the conference venue.

Karosta was constructed as a naval base for the Russian Tsar, and later served as a base for the Soviet Navy. The base is of tactical importance due to its central location in the Baltic Sea and the fact that it does not ice over in winter. Built on the bare coast it consists of a large man-made harbour including a large breakwater and inland submarine warren. When the Russian army left Latvia in 1994 after Latvian independence, Karosta became largely uninhabited and most structures fell to ruin. The area is troubled by high unemployment, street crime and drug problems. Some remaining residents are considered neither Latvian nor Russian and hold “alien passports”

During the Soviet occupation, Liepaja was a closed city and even nearby farmers and villagers needed a special permit to enter the city. The Soviet military set up its main Baltic naval base there, and closed it completely to commercial traffic in the late 1960s. One third of the city was occupied by the Soviet Naval Base with 26 thousand military staff.

Top secret USSR document about creating closed military port in Liepaja. Signed by Stalin.

The conference venue; former Admiralty palace