One day in the Moscow's secret underground spaces.
Underground passages, caves and grottos under Moscow have always interested me. But I did not have a chance to see them. Recently my friend Viktor Buinov invited me to visit Moscow underground communications. I finally realized my long-standing dream.
I took a sweater, a ski cap, an electric torch and a ski flask filled with vodka. The uncertainty of this adventure worried me: whether Viktor knows Moscow underground communications well or he can get lost there, and if we can be attacked by mutant rats and caught by criminals hiding from the authorities.
At 3 pm I was in Viktor’s apartment in Tsvetnoi Boulevard. Viktor had a skeptic opinion of my outfit: “Nobody goes underground wearing this”. He gave me a suit for chemical attack, a miner’s helmet, a powerful railway torch, a piece of kapron rope ten meters long, a set of mountain-climbing hooks, a hammer, food supplies for a week. Viktor had the same set of things for himself, just added a sapper spade and a pickaxe. As he explained, many things can happen underground, and we must be ready for this. We put on orange jackets of repair workers not to be stopped by the police when going underground.
We headed for the Trubnaya Square. We were able to imperceptibly enter the half-destroyed house where a powerful grandee’s palace was located during the period of Queen Sofia’s rule at the end of 17th century. The grandee constructed the underground passage to the palace of the amorous queen. Viktor discovered the passage after reading archeology books, dug out its entrance and started using it for going underground. He put aside the concrete plate closing the entrance, and we started climbing down.
It was hard to breathe and the eyes were watering because of the bad stink. The warm clothing did not keep me warm in the wet underground atmosphere. Absolute darkness terrified me. I looked upward and could see only a small piece of the cloudy sky. I thought I might see it for the last time. Viktor called me: “Don’t lag behind!” We started our underground tour.
We stepped through stinky liquid. The stone walls of the passage were covered with mucus. It was black, red, yellow and colorless and smelled terribly like sauerkraut soup spiced with rotten eggs. One could vomit smelling this.
After passing about 250 meters we made a turn for Neglinka Street. The tunnel was so narrow that we had to sidle. At that moment I could appreciate my companion’s gesture of giving me the rubber suit. If I had not had this clothing, I would have looked like a tramp.
Suddenly something jumped onto my shoulder. I had a sudden idea of mutant rats and tried to shake off the giant rodent, but failed to do this. I called Viktor for help. The piece on my shoulder was yellowish mucus. For the first time for the 30 minutes of our tour, we burst out laughing. Indeed, only viruses and tramps can adjust such terrible conditions. Mutant rats can hardly live here!
Breathe of Death
Under the area of the Maly Theater we turned left and headed for the Lubyanskaya Square where Federal Security Service is located. I was eager to check if this respectable institution is well protected for penetration of spies. To reach the passages under the Lubyanskaya Square we had to use the breach secretly made by diggers. It is a hole of one meter long and half a meter wide. Viktor was moving ahead and he was much faster than me. Being a bigger man than my companion I moved with difficulties. From time to time Viktor pulled me with a rope. The lack of air troubled me. Finally we reached a big iron door with a massive lock. My friend pushed the door with his foot, and it opened.
We saw a 10 meter long passage decorated with gray limestone. It ended with a brick wall. We started knocking at the wall and soon discovered a cavity behind it. We hit the wall with the pickaxe several times, and the made the hole to the passage. As soon as we got through the hole, the passage vault fell closing our way back and causing a thick poisonous cloud of dust. It penetrated into the mouth, nose and eyes. There was little air for our breathing. We decided to dig the passage parallel to the one with the fallen vault. We dug with the sapper spade and pickaxe without stopping. Sometimes we paused for having some water. Twenty minutes later we became exhausted and sleepy. It was a bad sign. We started saving the torch batteries. During our next break we told each other that we could see perfectly in the darkness. First we thought we were having hallucinations. We checked this in different ways: by reading the newspaper, telling the colors of our clothing. Indeed, our eyesight marvelously adjusted to the complete darkness.
Half an hour later we dug the stone wall. According to Viktor, it was the famous passage connecting the headquarters of KGB and Party Central Committee. It was impossible to break the hole in the famous tunnel. Viktor believes its wall can withstand the power of the explosion of the middle-sized atomic bomb. We decided to continue digging to the left of the wall.
Soon we reached another wall made of bricks. We broke it and entered the sewer system tunnel. We leaned against the wall and enjoyed smoking a cigarette. We were happy after the horror we had experienced earlier. There was about 10 steps to the exit when we heard somebody’s voices. We hid and saw five men in diving-suits with machine-guns in their hands. We were watching them with a bad feeling. After the strangers left, we hurried to the hatch in the wall, opened it and started climbing down the rusty ladder.
I heard the familiar sound of the Metro. I was delighted as if I met my old friend and offered my companion to finish the tour and go outside. Viktor was offended: “Are you scared?” I felt badly, but had to continue climbing down. We passed seven levels of tunnels. There was mash under our feet. Sometimes I stepped on something elastic. The idea that it could be dead bodies terrified me. Viktor stopped and started examining the wall. He found the pass to the other underground communications, and we started crawling along the narrow passage to the Rossiya Hotel. I had no feelings, even no horror because of the idea that falling can happen again.
We encountered unusual people. They were standing on the big ground and conducting some ceremony. A naked woman was lying on the home-made table. Her face was closed with a black mask and a sword was lying on her belly. She was surrounded with thick black candles and people in black clothes and masks. Their leader was holding a bowl, he put a brush into it and then splashed red liquid at the woman saying: “Mighty dark force, we are addressing you!” Viktor said they were devil worshippers: “The worst thing they have is the ceremony of sacrifice to devil. I saw they brought infants for sacrifice, killed them, and every sect member drank the infants’ blood. The only hope in fighting such sects is tramps. They constantly destroy the sect meeting places, not allowing them to settle down”. We decided to turn back and find another way.
Treasure of Czar Ivan the Terrible
Soon we reached the area of the Rossiya Hotel. On our way we encountered a small lake with black water. The lake was boiling up and had a smell of alcohol. Viktor said this was caused by the sellers who threw away a lot of spoiled fruit and vegetables through gutter hatches. If tramps discover this lake, they will drink it all.
I felt exhausted and wanted to go home and have a hot shower. But my friend insisted on our going to the Kremlin area. The entrance to the underground passage is located 2.5 meters above the ground. I had to recall the experience in rock-climbing I obtained 25 years ago. I fell about 10 times, but finally was able to climb up. The passage stones were decorated with white stone. It looked like time did not touch it. The floor was covered with a thick layer of garbage. There was a well filled with water in the middle of the passage. I lit inside the wall with the torch. When I put the torch aside I saw in surprise that the water was shining. The both ends of the passage were closed with a thick layer of bricks. Viktor put the crow-bar under the bricks and put aside a big piece of the wall. He said it is possible to get into one of the Kremlin towers after dismantling the brick layer. He believes the passage leads to the famous hidden library of the czar Ivan the Terrible. Currently Viktor is busy with digging out the passage. He already found 30 gold coins made during the czar period. On the whole, Viktor thinks diggers go underground not because of romantic feelings, they look for treasures.
Our way back was much shorter. Saying good-bye, Viktor promised for the next time to take me for a tour in a secret underground city located in the South-West of Moscow…
[Source: Secret Materials of Russia newspaper]