The dainty Russian-style town of Semey, 620 mi/1,000 km north of Almaty and near the Serbian border, was once the destination of Russian political exiles and the site of extensive underground nuclear testing. The tests left permanent genetic mutations among the populace: Examples can be seen at the Anatomic Museum housed in the building of the Military Medical Academy (not for the faint of heart). The town also has a museum honoring Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who spent five years of forced military service in Semey, and the Abay Memorial devoted to Abay Qunanbaev, Kazakhstan's leading literary light.

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