Another Russian Turns Up Dead – He Actually Saved The World (VIDEO)

It has just come to light that Stanislav Petrov, a former Soviet Lieutenant Colonel, passed away on May 19 this year in his apartment in the small town of Fryazino, northeast of Moscow. You have probably never heard of him, but if it weren’t for Petrov’s actions (or lack thereof), there is a good chance you wouldn’t be here to read this today.

If you have seen the 2014 film The Man Who Saved The World, staring Kevin Costner, then you might have some sort of an idea of who Petrov is, as that movie was based how he prevented a nuclear crisis between the US and the USSR, as well as averting the potential for World War III, back in the 1980s by essentially doing nothing at all. That could be a part of the reason Petrov never considered himself a hero.

“At first when people started telling me that these TV reports had started calling me a hero, I was surprised. I never thought of myself as one – after all, I was literally just doing my job,” he once said in an interview later in life.

The date was September 26, 1983 and Petrov was on duty in a bunker near Moscow, in charge of an early warning radar system. It wasn’t long after midnight when Petrov noticed a single missile on the screen, launched from the US and heading toward the Soviet Union.

“When I first saw the alert message, I got up from my chair. All my subordinates were confused, so I started shouting orders at them to avoid panic. I knew my decision would have a lot of consequences,” Petrov recalled in a 2010 interview. “The siren went off for a second time. Giant blood-red letters appeared on our main screen, saying ‘START.’ It said that four more missiles had been launched.”

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This left the Kremlin only 30 minutes from when the warheads were initially fired to decide whether retaliation with nuclear weapons of their own was necessary and Petrov just 15 minutes to determine if the threat was indeed real.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red-hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn’t even stand up. That’s how nervous I was when I was taking this decision.”

Fortunately for all of mankind, Petrov recalled from his training that, if the US were to attack, they would do so on an all-out offensive, as opposed to simply firing a couple of missiles here and there. Petrov took this into account and declined to tell his superior officers, figuring that a system malfunction must be responsible for the alarm and it turned out he was right; the Soviet satellites had actually picked up sunlight reflected from clouds and mistaken it for nuclear warheads, although Petrov’s decision to keep the information from his superiors was a severe infraction of Soviet military rules.

The incident was kept as a highly classified secret for years. Even at the time of her death in 1997, Petrov’s own wife, Raisa, wasn’t aware of what he had done and it was only made public when Colonel General Yury Votintsev, Petrov’s superintendent, decided in 1998 that his deed should be commended and told the story to Bild, a German tabloid. German political activist Karl Schumacher was so affected by the article that he traveled to Russia to find Petrov and invited him back to Germany in order to give his version  of how he had saved the world from nuclear war, something that had been a very real threat for decades.

In 2006, the Association of World Citizens presented Petrov with an award in the UN headquarters in New York, which reads: “To the man who averted nuclear war.” In 2012, Petrov was also honored with the German Media Prize, which has previously been awarded to Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Kofi Annan.

Stanislav Petrov was 77 years old. Watch the story of Stanislav Petrov’s actions unfold here: