Baikonur is a completely unique place on the map of Kazakhstan. This is the first space harbor of the planet, the place where the whole world history of space exploration began. From here the artificial Earth satellite was launched, from here Yuri Gagarin flew into space. Today Baikonur is one of the historical landmarks of modern Kazakhstan.
 
The city and the nearby spaceport have always been in a shroud of secrecy and prohibitions. Naturally, both the cosmodrome and the city itself, where scientists and workers of the cosmodrome lived, were always special restricted facilities, which were very difficult for a mere mortal to get to. Even the geographical location of the city and the spaceport was considered top-secret. Here is just one fact showing how serious the level of secrecy was: when trains passed by the Moscow-Tashkent railway, the light was switched off in the whole city so that it was not noticed by the passengers of the cars.

Today, everything is not so secret, but special regime status still remains.

The city and the cosmodrome are a territory with dual management and de facto dual law: it is long leased to the Russian Federation until 2050 and is considered both a regional governed city of Kazakhstan and a city of the federal significance of the Russian Federation. Therefore, on the territory of Baikonur there is Russian legislation for citizens of the Russian Federation, and also Kazakh legislation for citizens of Kazakhstan.

updated: 14 august 2021

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