Is aerial photography still illegal in Russia

Life in nowhere The Russian diamond city of Mirny

1,200 meters in diameter, almost 1,000 meters deep: the pit of the "Mir" diamond mine is gigantic. It is located in the middle of the Siberian Yakutia, not far from the city of Mirny - the diamond city.

Secret and difficult to reach

In the USSR, Mirny, where around 40,000 people live today, was a so-called closed city. Only residents and officials were allowed to enter. The secrecy went so far that Mirny did not appear on any map. That has changed, but it is still difficult to get to the place: There are no roads to Mirny, there is only one flight connection. The nearest town is 300 kilometers away. By the way, airplanes and helicopters are strictly forbidden to fly over the hole, as they can be pulled into the depths by dangerous downdrafts.

Working at minus 70 degrees

Living conditions in Mirny are tough: in the seven-month winter, temperatures in the city drop to minus 50 degrees Celsius. And it can be even colder. At the bottom of the mine crater, temperatures can drop to minus 70 degrees Celsius. The miners often have to interrupt their work and warm up in the break barracks. Working in the diamond mine is a dangerous backbreaking job. After all, the miners are paid decently and on time.

A narrow gravel road leads down into the depths in serpentines at the edge of the hole. The route is eight kilometers long. The huge trucks that haul the rubble up take more than an hour and a half to get there. The tours are life-threatening: almost every day, huge chunks of rock come loose from the walls, slopes simply break away under the trucks.

Diamonds for socialism

Diamonds have been mined in Mirny since 1957. Two years earlier, Soviet geologists had finally found traces of diamonds. The Soviet party and state leader, Stalin, had geologists search for diamonds across the country since the mid-1930s. The industry urgently needed them for tools and drill heads. Over the years, the crater became deeper and deeper and the Soviet Union advanced to become the largest diamond producer in the world.

The crater becomes unstable

In 2001 the open-cast diamond mine in the "Mir" crater was closed. The walls were sliding off and there was no way to stabilize them. Diamonds have been mined again since 2009 - but only underground. The operator of the "Mir" mine is the Alrosa company, which it claims to be the largest diamond miner in the world. The main owner is the Russian state.