At the edge of a lake on a fault line of the new Cold War stands a building that, depending on how you look at it, is either a relic of a failed revolution or the beating heart of a new one.
In Soviet times, the Kuchurgan electricity plant powered a swath of the empire from Romania to Ukraine. Today, its red and white striped smokestacks still loom over the surrounding cornfields, making ants of the workers who file out at quitting time. Recently the station and its adjoining town—planned to Soviet perfection—has been a stop on the nostalgia tours that have boomed across eastern Europe off the back of the HBO series Chernobyl. Kuchurgan sits not far from the blast site, just inside Transnistria, a wholly unrecognized quasi-state slivered between Moldova and Ukraine and marketed by its tourist board as the place where the USSR never ended. There are Russian peacekeepers, brutalist statues, streets named after communist heroes, and a steady stream of sightseers snapping shots of them all.
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