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‘The man who saved the world’ dies in Russia

Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet military officer who is widely credited with helping prevent a nuclear war with the United States, has died aged 77, his son says.

Former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Petrov, whose story was told in a documentary titled “The Man Who Saved the World,” received several international awards, was honored at the United Nations.

In September 1983, Petrov was an officer on duty at a secret command center south of Moscow when an alarm went off signalling that the United States had launched intercontinental ballistic missiles. The officer — who had only a few minutes to make a decision and was not sure about the incoming data — dismissed the warning as a false alarm.

Had he told his commanders of an imminent US nuclear strike, the Soviet leadership — locked in an arms race with Washington — might have ordered a retaliatory strike.

Instead the 44-year-old lieutenant colonel reported a system malfunction and an investigation that followed afterwards proved he was right.

— AFP

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