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The UVB-76 Mystery refers to investigations and theories surrounding the Russian UVB-76 shortwave radio station (also known as “The Buzzer”) on the 4625 kHz frequency, which is known for broadcasting a repeating buzz tone for 24 hours a day along with rare Russian voice transmissions.
According to a UVB-76 document titled “The Buzzer Primer” by the international radio enthusiast group Priyom, the first reports of UVB-76 transmissions ranged from 1976 to 1982. The earliest known recording of a UVB-76 broadcast was taken by Netherlands resident Ary Boender in January 1982 (shown below).
The purpose of the transmissions is unknown. An academic paper published by the Borok Geophysical Observatory claims that the signal comes from a scientific observatory that measure changes in the ionosphere. Conspiracy theorists have speculated that the station serves as part of a hypothetical “Dead Man Switch” automated system capable of launching a counter-strike upon a devastating nuclear attack. Others speculate that the station serves as a simple military communication system for western Russia.
On December 24th, 1997, the first recorded voice message broadcast on the station was taken by Polish resident Jan Michalski, which read the sequence “УЗБ-76 180 08 БРОМАЛ 74 27 99
14” (shown below).
On November 3rd, 2001, a Russian conversation was mistakenly transmitted according to The Buzzer Primer. On November 14th, Michalski launched a Geocities page documenting the UVB-76 radio station. On September 1st, 2008, YouTuber MrDrSmithJr uploaded a UVB-76 recording playing over a satellite photograph of the radio station, which gained over 1.25 million views and 1,000 comments in the first six years (shown below).
On August 25th, 2010, Redditor Quady submitted a link to the UVB-76 Wikipedia entry to the /r/technology subreddit, where it garnered upwards of 1,700 upvotes and 580 comments prior to being archived. In September, the station was moved from a Russian military base near the town of Povarovo and switched to the identification MDZhB. On November 11th, an hour-long phone conversation was mistakenly transmitted (shown below).
On October 8th, 2011, Wired published an article about the mysterious radio station. On March 7th, the Russian urban exploration blog Kwasd published a report of a group’s investigation of the abandoned Povarovo base, which claimed to have discovered a log book of UVB-76 message broadcasts. On October 1st, 2012, Redditor bottlebob32 participated in a “ask me anything” (AMA) post on the /r/IAmA subreddit, where he claimed to have visited Povarovo and provided photo galleries of his trip. On October 12th, a thread was created in the /k/ (weapons) board on 4chan, which noted that several bizarre transmissions were broadcast over the station earlier that month. On January 25th, 2013, the station broadcast the order “Command 135 initiated” (“OBYaVLENIYA KOMANDA 135” in Russian).
On August 27th, 2013, The Kernel published an article about the online fascination with UVB-76 transmissions, which noted that the new location of the transmitter may be near the Russian villages Kirsino, Pskov Oblast or Kolpino. On March 10th, 2014, Redditor mwguthrie submitted a photograph of the abandoned UVB-76 station in Povarovo to the /r/AbandonedPorn subreddit, where it gathered more than 1,000 upvotes and 50 comments in two months (shown below).
Less than 10 hours after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation on March 18th, the voice message “T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A. Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris. Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris. 81 26 T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A” was broadcast from the radio station.