A once-secret Russian nuclear power plant has been opened to an international team of academics, and a researcher from Kingston University was granted access.

Dr Egle Rindzeviciute, researcher and lecturer in Criminology and Sociology, went to explore the archives of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow and the world’s first commercial nuclear plant in Obninsk.

The Obninsk Institute of Nuclear Physics and Power is developing a memorial complex dedicated to celebrating the origins of nuclear energy in Russia.

It is hoped the site, which was in the heart of the nation’s nuclear weapon planning during the Cold War, will shed some light on that era.

Dr Rindzeviciute said: "We are beginning to see a turn in how Russia wants its nuclear identity to be seen. In the former Soviet Union, achievements in science and technology, especially related to space and nuclear power, were intended to demonstrate the superiority of the communist regime.

"This era is now becoming viewed with nostalgia and reminiscence, although risks associated with nuclear power are not always being explicitly explained.

"Rosatom [the Russian state nuclear corporation] has established a special centre for history and culture, which oversees about one hundred nuclear heritage sites in the country. While some historical sites and objects, such as the Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker in Murmansk are open to the public, others, such as Sarov Museum of Nuclear Weapons, are closed to foreign visitors.

"History shows that secrecy is not a viable approach from a long-term perspective. It is therefore imperative that Rosatom continues to open up to cultural reflection on the nuclear industry. It is vital to foster international cooperation in this area."

Kingston University will continue to be engaged in the forefront of debates on the nuclear past and the future, with a grant of over £90,000 being awarded to the University over 2018 to 2020 as part of the Atomic Heritage Goes Critical: Community, Waste and Nuclear Imagination project.