Albanian military personnel walk next to MIG-19 jet fighters inside the main tunnel of the Gjader Air Base built near the city of Lezhe, on February 5, 2019. AFP / Gent SHKULLAKU
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GJADER, Albania: On a barren hillside in northern Albania lies a portal to the country's communist past: a massive steel door creaks open to reveal a hidden former air base burrowed into the heart of the mountain. Made up of 600 meters of tunnels that once teemed with military life, the secret Gjader air base is now a depot for dozens of hulking communist-era MiG jets collecting dust in the darkness.The communist-era jets, which include MiG-19, MiG-17 and MiG-21 models among others, have been out of commission for well over a decade.'Stalin City' During his nearly 40 years of rule, Hoxha turned Albania into the most militarized country in the Balkans.That backfired spectacularly in 1997, seven years after the fall of communism when the country was swept up by an armed rebellion that saw citizens raid armories and military bases for weapons.Danaj still dreams of seeing Gjader returned to its former glory.
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