The radio transmitter has been transmitting the signal at a frequency of 4625 kHz continuously since 1982. It fascinates radio amateurs, various enthusiasts and mystics.
The transmission contains a single tone that accompanies the machine beep every few seconds. About once or twice a week, a male or female voice sounds and says a few words in Russian. For example, “boat” or “agricultural specialist”.
That’s all, or so it was until last week, when the transmitter, nicknamed the buzzer, came to life.
In addition to the South Korean hit Gangnam Style, unknown pirates also began to “draw” the signal to depict various memes and cartoons, such as the stylized face used by the hacking movement Anonymous, when analyzing the signal via a spectrometer.
The pirates did not disrupt the UVB-76 radio itself, but briefly flooded the frequency with broadcasts from their own transmitters.
UVB-76, a Russian military radio channel used for covert communication for the past 40 years, was hijacked by radio pirates who began playing Gangnam style and displaying memes last week. It’s still happening, I captured this image today pic.twitter.com/eOzicrKWUH
— GuidedHacking (@GuidedHacking) January 24, 2022
So nothing has changed in the monotonous broadcast, which can be listened to online via the Youtube streaming service.
Dead hand system
What makes sense for the continuous transmission of the so-called buzzer actually remains unclear. Conspiracy theories are emerging that these are reports for aliens, but according to the BBC, more grounded explanations are also offered. One of them is the possibility that it is part of a system called the “dead hand” or also the Perimeter, which in the event of Russia’s intervention with nuclear warheads would stop broadcasting and trigger a retaliatory reaction. This would lead to a nuclear apocalypse.
The problem is that broadcasting on shortwave from two places in Russia in its current form does not provide 100% certainty that the signal will be maintained continuously, for example, by a submarine anywhere in the world. The slightest outage could then have catastrophic consequences.
According to the BBC, the most likely explanation is that the purpose of broadcasting is to reserve a frequency in case of a crisis. For example, wars. The station could be used to brief a network of spies around the world and military units in remote areas.
The Russians seem to have tried it. In 2013, they broadcast the message “Order 135 issued”. This could be, for example, an order to fight.