Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The dead zone Sumgait was once one of the most important industrial centres in the USSR. But the collapse of the Soviet system has revealed a frightening environmental legacy. Richard Thompson reports

Entering Sumgait's industrial zone is like walking on to a Mad Max set. A potholed dual carriageway carries you past mile upon mile of decrepit factory buildings. The road is flanked by rusting, leaking pipes winding through piles of twisted metal and broken concrete. Most striking of all, it is completely still. For an industrial city of 350,000 people it is eerie. The silence is evidence of how far the collapse of the Soviet economy has hit Azerbaijan.

Subscribe for full online access and get...

  • Full, instant access to all stories
  • Customised email alerts straight to your inbox
  • Monthly print magazine

Register for guest access to keep reading and get..

  • A free taste of other selected news stories
  • Daily email newsletters


Already have a subscription or ICE membership? or