UVB-76 is one of the last remaining numbers stations remaining in operation from the Cold War. The station is physically located outside the town of Povarova in Russia, and consists of three different transmitters. These broadcast on 4625Khz, which puts it well within the AM, or rather, shortwave, spectrum. As usual for this type of transmission, the signal broadcasts a buzzing, regular monotone interrupted only rarely by transmission of control codes such as:
"Ya ó UVB-76. 18008. BROMAL: Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 742, 799, 14."
Like most other numbers stations, UVB-76 is the focus of some scrutiny, especially in conspiracy theorist circles. While the widely accepted, and most logical explanation places the station as a message station for intelligence agents, theories include the use of UVB-76 as a control for the Dead Hand nuclear system, the usual mind control speculation, and use of the station as part of a weather control or weather monitoring system.
It is more likely that UVB-76 is related to the now defunct Russian Woodpecker over the horizon radar located near the ill-fated Chernobyl power plants. The installation is one of the few remaining intelligence control stations left over from the Soviet Union, which gives further credence to the idea that the decommissioning of the system is at hand or underway due to budget cuts.
On June 5th 2010, UVB-76 abruptly halted operations for the first time on record since the signal began in 1982. The signal went offline for several hours, leading to speculation and increasing paranoiac rantings from the conspiracy theorists, many of whom believed that this heralded a geopolitical move or the activation of the Dead Hand by the Russians.
However, as Wikipedia states, this was not the first time the station has experienced malfunctions. The microphone has been left open somewhat frequently, resulting in the occasional snippet of the operators discussing generator problems or communications back to their superiors. 24-48 hours later, the signal was back online, leading to speculation that maintenance ran long, or that the aging equipment required unusual replacement outside of the normal morning window.
Given the improving pace of technology, however, and the origin of UVB-76 as a Cold War station, it is extremely likely that the installation may soon be replaced as the extant number stations slowly go dark across the globe and new solutions are found for communication with field agents. Meanwhile, the occasional message still drifts out across the airwaves, such as this latest, transmitted on August 23rd, 2010.
"UVB-76, UVB-76 ó 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 ó 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4"
Hat tip to: