Russian Photoblogger Sneaks Into Secret Sites And Reveals What’s Inside
For Russian photoblogger Lana Sator, the world is a place to be investigated, no leaf unturned. She has made exploring the abandoned, the derelict, and the overlooked her personal mission, documenting it all on her personal web page. She’s one tough woman who delights in finding ruins and discovering their mysteries.
Over the years, she’s made some shocking discoveries in and around her home. Her expeditions of discovery have led her to hidden worlds of Cold War relics whose clues have been choked in ice, and others that have to do with matters of state security. Having published many of the findings of her captivating adventures, she’s garnered significant attention — not all of which she had expected.
1. Thrill Seeker
Ever since the young age of 12, Russian photoblogger Lana Sator has had a passion. Like many of us, she’s constantly intrigued by abandoned sites, but with her there’s a key difference. Whereas the majority of us would wonder in silence and walk on past, Lana was too inquisitive to keep her adventurous hobby to herself.
She had a passion for sneaking into derelict buildings wherever she came across them. Once she had found a way inside, it was time to be extra alert and start investigating. And her findings brought her sights she could never have imagined — ones that would eventually bring her fame, but also place her under the watchful eye of some very powerful figures.
2. Playground Moscow
Lana Sator lives in the Russian capital, Moscow, which is the primary location for many of her location findings. In her spare time, she is an avid photoblogger, using her personal account on LiveJournal as an online platform to document and share her experiences investigating abandoned or derelict sites.
While Russia is the most vast country on Earth, in a city as massive as Moscow, she had a plethora of possibilities right at her fingertips. It was one of Lana’s journeys in search of sites to explore that would lead her to the suburbs of her home city, bringing her to one of her most implausible discoveries to date.
3. Best Discovery Yet
Often, Lana would stumble upon abandoned houses or small buildings scattered throughout the sprawling metropolis of Moscow. She began to garner a steady online following from a growing audience of Russian-language fans who shared her enthusiasm for all things crumbling and mysterious. But in 2012, she managed to find the jackpot.
While her expeditions tended to take her to junkyards, homes, and smaller buildings, this newest objective stood out in a league of its own. Though she was confident that she knew what she was getting herself into, this was to be far, far bigger than anything Lana Sator had tackled previously — and its secrets were far more dangerous.
4. Industrial Complex
Lana had heard that there was a massive factory in the city of Khimki, located not too far away on the northern outskirts of Moscow. And rumor had it that the place had close to no supervision, meaning it would be perfect for snooping. For this Russian photoblogger, it couldn’t have been more up her alley.
She knew she had but one choice: to go investigate. But for this mission, she decided it was best not to do it alone. So Lana assembled a group of friends, themselves part of the photoblogging world. As Lana prepared, she whipped out the necessary photography equipment, and set out with her pals towards Khimki.
5. Sneaking In
With her intrepid group of Russian photoblogger adventurers, Lana arrived in Khimki and followed a path off the side of the road to get to the factory. The group stole in through an obvious hole in the fence surrounding the facility. Next, they crossed through underbrush dusted with snow, and then discovered several abandoned sheds.
But this was just the external face of the facility. Their adventure was only just about to begin. They continued onward and to their great surprise, they found that some of the heavy doors protecting the downstairs of the facility were wide open, just waiting for them to waltz right in.
6. Scoping Out The Territory
Once inside the factory grounds in Khimki, the team of Russian photobloggers were dazzled by the vastness of the facility and its many different wings and extensions. There were several towers jutting out above the main complex of the factory, which added a new step to their mission: climbing to the top.
From their vantage point at the top of the factory towers, they caught an incredible view of the factory grounds and the snowy forest surrounding it, with just a glimpse of the beginnings of Moscow on the horizon. But what they were soon about to discover was far more sinister — and would come with huge repercussions.
7. Sanctum Sanctorum
Once Lana and her friends climbed down out of the towers, it was time to enter the main building of the factory and see what secrets it held. The doors were wide open, looking well-worn and beat up by the weather. They crunched over the scattered piles of snow on the ground and went in.
The first thing that caught their attention was the fact that there were no guard huts anywhere to be found, whether in the factory yard or inside the entrance. The space in front of them was absolutely enormous. But there was one main problem that kept there from forging ahead.
8. Real Life Sci-Fi
Inside the empty factory in Khimki, the Russian photoblogger team came across a space so huge it was bewildering: the very heart of the factory. The sight was absolutely breathtaking. It looked like something straight out of Star Wars. It was as if they had stumbled upon the core of the Death Star itself.
Cameras poised, they couldn’t wait to share their findings with the world. As awestruck as they doubtlessly were, the melted snow thaw had flooded the floor. The lake of dirty cold water was preventing them from exploring the factory any further. They would have to rethink the plan. Still, they were determined.
9. Follow-Up Visit
Several days later, the team of Russian photobloggers came back to repeat their mission. They wanted to map out the entire factory to discover what items had been abandoned there. Fortunately, their first expedition had gone utterly undetected. Nothing had changed since the last trip, and they were able to retrace their path through the fence.
This time around, they were glad to discover that the interior of the foreboding factory had dried out. And that was when they were finally able to see the factory’s true purpose. The things they were about to finally document would be a huge reveal, one that had been unassumingly lurking there on the premise of national security.
10. Hidden Arsenal
The Russian photoblogger team had come across something their eyes and cameras ought never to have seen. Here in Khimki was one of Moscow’s largest rocket factories, specializing in testing the engines for a variety of different missiles. As Lana and her friends walked through and snapped pictures, they discovered a whole system of gauges.
There, too, in plain sight was the mechanism that fastened the rockets to their engines. These were scenes that the ministry of defense never would have wanted unauthorized civilian viewers to behold. Seeing that these weapons had been stored in a largely unguarded location, it raised the issue of who owned this ominous factory and had allowed for this cache of missiles to be so accessible?
11. Potentially Reckless, Not Abandoned
Usually, the places that Lana Sator sneaks into have been long since abandoned. But what made the factory in Khimki so disturbingly unique is that, believe it or not, it was still functional! That being said, Lana and her friends were utterly gobsmacked by the fact that nobody had deterred them.
Apparently, there were indeed guard dogs on site, but they had not bothered the Russian photoblogger team whatsoever. However, there were curiously no other security guards in sight, nor any of the factory’s many employees. There hadn’t been a doorman even to close up. Little did Lana and crew know when they first entered the premises, but there had, in fact, been video cameras in the facility.
12. Failed Surveillance
It wasn’t long until Lana and her friends had stumbled upon a few CCTV cameras, scattered throughout the facility. But they were emboldened by the fact that nobody had immediately come running after them. As they inspected the cameras, they founded that they were not working properly. The place, even though it was still fully functional, was completely empty.
It was easily the most sensational thing that Lana had ever stumbled upon. It was unconscionable that this much sensitive material, which could be co-opted for who knows what purpose, was able to be accessed and documented so easily. And once Lana posted the images of her discovery on her LiveJournal, it wasn’t the rockets that would be blowing up.
13. An Enormous Operation
It turned out that the manufacturing company that owned the factory was called NPO Energomash. The manufacturing company was responsible for building rockets and providing power to models such as the Soyuz, the Angara, Baikal, and Zenit 3SL. What’s more, they also produce the fuel for American weaponry like the Atlas V, which was in its preliminary stages of construction.
Even if Lana knew precisely what she was doing by uploading the pictures of the facility to her blog, she and her friends were tangling with far bigger powers than they could know. They had no idea just who would confront them. The web of intrigue was further prompted by the fact that company that owned the factory was directly connected to one of the most powerful entities on earth: the Russian military.
14. Public Reach
Publishing the findings from the Khimki factory was bound to send ripples from the Russian security network. Though Lana and her friends refused to disclose the location of this weapons factory that they had managed to repeatedly infiltrate, Russian authorities came hot on her case. Understandably, the case was a matter of great concern for them.
There on social media were all the innards of a top weapons facility, for the world to see. It was not only a security breach of the highest degree, but it was a shocking illustration of just how lax the supervision at the facility was. Drastic action had to be taken.
15. Cease And Desist
At the time, the authority in charge of the Russian Federation’s defense industry was the Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin. He issued a harsh statement in the aftermath of Lana’s discovery. Seeking to downplay the severity of the incident, he dismissively referred to the photoblogger and her friends as “cheeky mice”.
But in order to put the kibosh on other adventure seekers flocking to Khimki, he sternly insisted that anyone attempting to repeat her stunt would face harsh punishment. Rogozin said the facility would have new security. But Lana herself was about to receive her own additional taste of the military industrial complex’s wrath.
16. Lana In The Spotlight
As the security issue surrounding the missile facility became headline news, the intrepid Russian photoblogger Lana Sator received personal warnings from high-ranking government officials in her country, who sent her official letters threatening her. Lana was sternly informed that it would not be worth her while to continue sharing photos of the Khimki rocket factory on the Internet.
Plainly put, the cease and desist letter coldly told Lana that her “situation will get much worse.” But Lana waved the threats aside, keeping the pictures up on her personal LiveJournal. Few things could truly unnerve her. It was that same steely will and curiosity that had brought her to the middle of a remote forest, two years before, when she uncovered another massive mystery.
17. In Karelia
Lana Sator’s previous adventure that led to another mysterious reveal occurred in July 2010 while she had been on a trip out of Moscow. She had traveled northwest to the Republic of Karelia, a heavily-forested region on the border between Russia and Finland. She had been invited there by a friend who knew of her penchant for exploring abandoned places.
It was a region filled with rivers, lakes, islands, even World Heritage Site churches. But all these were above ground, plainly out in the open for all to see. There, in the depths of the forest, she was about to make the discovery of a lifetime. Below the foliage and serenity of the forest, something lay beneath the surface.
18. An Unassuming Outhouse
Lana Sator’s friend in Karelia had a property that included a wooden outhouse in the middle of the woods, looking derelict and abandoned, its door blown off long ago by the wind. Having an outhouse was not uncommon in this rural area of Russia, but this one had was literally covering a secret.
The photoblogger-explorer was told that there was something highly unusual about this outhouse. It seemed comical, given its intended purpose, but she decided it was worth investigating. The tiny, unsightly, and simple structure was in fact hiding far more than it appeared. Its owner didn’t know enough — and wanted answers.
19. Secret Entrance
Curiosity got the better of Lana. She looked in cautiously, naturally expecting that the scene inside the derelict wooden outhouse would be repulsive. But she immediately discovered that it was all a charade. The outhouse was just a decoy, hiding an entry into a pit far more massive than any latrine.
What’s more, there was a ladder leaning down, practically beckoning her on in to explore. There was only one thing to do. She grabbed a friend, brandished her tripod, fixed her camera’s ISO sensitivity, and slowly descended into the darkness, rung by rotted rung. As she descended, the air grew chilly — and a new world opened up before her.
20. In The Ice Kingdom
Deep underground, Lana was immediately surprised by the amount of ice that coated just about everything — in the middle of summer, no less. The ladder had led her down into a cave, where the ice was so thick that it formed its own stalactites. It was the entrance to an entire underground world.
The sound of frigid water quietly trickling underground was the only noise they could hear down there in the dark. Carefully they inched forward, not sure where they were heading. It was clear that whatever this Russian photoblogger had stumbled on was far more vast than she had ever imagined.
21. Underground Realm
Diligently, Lana and her companion forged ahead. They had happened upon an entire network of tunnels. All around them, water and ice had seeped into this surreal, subterranean kingdom. But it was still unclear what the purpose of these tunnels had originally been — and how they had become so overrun with ice.
In fact, just trudging around at certain points required wading through the frigid, dirty water up to their knees. As Lana Sator progressed with her companion through the murky shaft, little by little, their flashlights revealed scant few clues that had not seen light for decades. Then, Lana saw what had been left there.
22. Cold War Relic
Lana could tell from the form of things that somewhere in the past, presumably during the Cold War, this series of tunnels had formed a mine. To prove her point, she and her companion continued to come across various items that would have been used there: long-abandoned mining tools and pushcarts.
The objects were disorganized, thrown haphazardly everywhere. Some eerily stood alone in the middle of the tunnels, others were heaped in disorderly piles. Every bit of equipment, every small clue as to the story of this underground tunnel was coated with years upon years of dust, ice, or frost crystals. Why had they been abandoned so hastily?
23. Decay And Collapse
The more Lana Sator pushed forward, camera in tow to document her captivating and creepy findings, the more questions arose. Things became less easy to explain and far more wrapped up in a film of mystery. There were a multitude of tunnels, and it was not clear where any of them led.
She shivered in the chill of the cavern as she noticed an old carriage used for transporting miners, now half-submerged under the weight of an interminable amount of time neglected and forgotten. Then, once the ground became clear enough to determine what had been built on it, she looked down.
24. Gripped By Cold
The tracks of the mine shaft were frozen over by a sheet of ice. They were barely visible beneath the ice and grime. Perhaps there had been flooding in the mine, which had led to its demise and ultimate abandonment. She shone her flashlight as close as possible in order to capture the sight on camera.
Yet as she proceeded with her exploration, yearning to find out more about this place whose mystery mounted with every step, she discovered dead end after dead end. This frozen cavern whose thick air bit with cold even in the midst of summer was as unwelcoming as could be — and perilous.
25. Mounting Risks
As she inched on, Lana was slowly putting herself in more and more potential danger. Many of the tunnels looked like they could collapse at any moment. If she became trapped down there in those subzero temperatures, how long would it take for help to come, and who would know she and her friend were down there?
The beams holding up the sides of the shafts had been badly damaged by the water, and icicles were splitting into the wood. They had worn themselves into any available crack in the wood and expanded, pulling it apart. One wrong move could mean all supports could disintegrate. They had not been meant to discover this abandoned mine, and soon they face a decision of great gravity.
26. Backtracking Attempts
Despite the threats she would receive in the future from the government, this Russian photoblogger was now at far greater risk. Eventually, it was time to give up the search. There was not nearly enough space to move around. Some of the passages had been totally flooded, almost up to the ceiling of the mine shaft.
There was no way of telling what rocks they could slip on under the dirty, icy water. Some tunnels would require a pickax to forge through. Lana and her companion reached the conclusion that there was simply no point in moving forward. The story of the mine would just have to be told by what they had found up until then.
27. Trying To Get Out
Lana was eventually able to get back the way she had come thanks to the photographs she had taken along the way. The Russian photoblogger resourcefully flipped through her camera roll, trying to match the photographs with the bleak scenery around here, like Hansel and Gretel following the breadcrumbs to get out of the forest.
On the way back out through the labyrinth, there were temptations to find shortcuts. There were many additional shafts leading up out of the mine to unknown exits, presumably scattered throughout the forest. Which one could she take? Was it even necessary to trace her steps back to the original point of entry? Only time would tell.
28. Only One Right Option
Ultimately, Lana had to rely on her photographs alone in order to get back safely to the surface, because even if there were many different possible escape shafts, there was no way of knowing how stable the soggy decayed wood of the ladders was. She had to trust her instincts and go by what she knew for a fact was secure.
Had she taken one of the other escape routes, she would not necessarily have known how to get home from wherever in the depths of the forest they would spit her out. Ultimately, the mysteries behind the eerie mine could not be solved, but what little was known of its story was beautifully illustrated by Lana’s haunting photographs. In light of all the close calls and repercussions of her quests, her thirst for adventure was far from over.
29. Undeterred Explorer
Most recently, Lana has kept active exploring abandoned sites, these days preferring to keep the search closer to home inside Moscow itself. Her most recent find, from 2018, ended up creating quite a stir in her home city. As she found, a massive personal security violation was being passively committed right under the public’s nose.
Lana entered a two-story building on Bol’shaya Cheremushkinskaya Street that was falling apart, left over from years before when it had housed a Federal Migration Service office and police station. Like in her previous expedition into the missile factor, again there were no guards here. The gate surrounding the house was not locked. Again she would uncover something that she couldn’t believe would just be lying in the open.
30. Sensitive Information Scattered
Inside the abandoned building were piles upon piles of expired passports and travel documents, criminal case files for adults as well as juvenile delinquents, and more highly sensitive reports. But even more critical was what was attached: the Russian photoblogger discovered scores of extremely personal documents, marriage and birth certificates, belonging to fellow Muscovites.
This time, unlike when she had breached the missile factory in Khimki, she felt compelled to publish the location of her discovery in the hopes that she it would pressure the local authorities into taking action. Sure enough, her story went viral, and just a few hours later, police cordoned the area off. What incredible things will this Russian photoblogger discover next?
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