NTV Looks Inside Nuclear Command Bunker

Moscow NTV 27 Nov 95
by NTV correspondent Marianna Maksimovskaya on "Segodnya" program

[Maksimovskaya] [Video footage of Maksimovskaya standing in front of a gray Mercedes] This Mercedes is probably the most notoriously famous of all special-designation cars. Having become the subject of two court trials and a stormy discussion in the press, the car may have brought its owner, Ministry of Defense Pavel Grachev, more aggravation than good. [Wide shot of a gray Mercedes and a black ZIL driving up to a General Staff building entrance] When he signed the papers authorizing the purchase of two Mercedes, the minister of defense certainly could not have dreamed even in his worst nightmare that the car's make would be linked in the press with his own name, and he would have to provide explanations as to why the cars had been purchased with funds from the wrong budget line item. ....for Grachev strictly because of the convenience of installing special communications equipment in it, not just for the car's representation value. [Close-ups of the car's front, door, and rear] Before this Mercedes, the minister of defense's official car was this ZIL [close-up of a ZIL], until recently a symbol of membership in the highest echelons of national leadership, but at the same time an extremely impractical vehicle.

[Sergey Suprunenko, communications officer] [begin recording] Keep in mind that ZIL cars are individually assembled and every part is practically handmade. [end recording]

By the way, these Mercedes cars, purchased by the military in Germany, were previously owned, but afterwards the minister's car was equipped with absolutely state-of- the-art communications. Only telephones are installed in the car's interior [close-up shot through the car's open passenger door]: All the equipment fits under this cover in the trunk. [Suprunenko opens the trunk and shows a roll-up cover hiding items in the back of the trunk] From this car, the minister of defense can establish a link with any place in the world the same way he would from his office. The exception is a direct link with Washington, which is installed only in Grachev's office.

[Vladimir Vetrov, deputy chief of staff of the RF minister of defense] [Wide shot of Grachev's desk and Vetrov] [begin recording] The most remarkable item on this desk is this dark telephone [close-up of six telephones, five white and one black. Vetrov points to the black telephone], which the Russian minister of defense uses for communications with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry.[end recording]

[Wide shot of Grachev's office] Grachev's office is fully automated [close-ups of a wall map being rolled out, a briefing folder, a telephone, and a communications panel with names under some buttons], and the minister gets the latest information on events in the world and the Armed Forces right here--daily, and, according to the military staff, very early in the morning, as soon as he arrives in the office. Naturally, the information is reported to the minister in the form of a brief, but, according to his aides, Grachev himself knows how to use a computer [a screen from a "Flight Simulator" game] and especially likes to play computer games.

[Vetrov] [close-up] [begin recording] During my time on this job, to be honest, I have never seen the minister play them, although I did hear that he likes to. [Smiles] At home, probably. [end recording]

All the minister of defense's communications are integrated into a system serviced by a special team. [Pan shot of 11 telephones and rows of computers] The communication lines have a backup, for instance, also in this bunker--the so-called secure situation room. [Wide shot of a large room with tables lined up in an L-shape, several wall monitors, numerous computer monitors, and a laptop computer on a close-by desk; close-up of a huge television screen] It is situated quite deep underground, but special natural-light lamps in these decorative windows create the complete imitation of a regular room. From this military command center the minister of defense can command all the Armed Forces [close-up of a bank of telephones on a swing shelf under the table, with a plaque designated "minister of defense" attached to the table's front edge], including the nuclear shield. By the way, for emergency situations there is a work station for the president too.

[Vladimir Shuvalov, information support group chief] [begin recording] Here is the Russian Federation president's work station [he points to a chair in front of a desk; next to it, five computer monitors and a laptop in front of the minister of defense's work station]. Next to it is the minister of defense's station. [end recording] Naturally, both leaders would be present here only in an extreme emergency. But even in peace time the bunker does not remain unused [close-up of a bank of telephones on a swing shelf under a table and a plaque designated "president"]. Regulations require that they periodically conduct simulation sessions here [medium close-up of an officer at control panels with three monitors].

[Shuvalov] [standing at the minister of defense's station] [begin recording] During operations, from this station the Russian Federation president gives the command to launch--a simulation launch--missiles. [end recording]

The last time Yeltsin and Grachev [photo of Yeltsin and Grachev at the same desk, with Baturin in the background] practiced launching missiles was at the end of 1994. The training exercise was a success. The communications worked perfectly, and the president was satisfied with the simulation. [Shot of a guard post outside the bunker door and an officer entering the room and closing the heavy door behind him]

Marianna Maksimovskaya, Vladimir Avdeyev, NTV television company.