Chernobyl Updates - Belarus

My friend Kathy Ryan from Chernobyl Children’s Project International sent me a link to a story regarding Belarus’ President Alexandr Lukashenko and his attacks on critics of his plan to build a nuclear power station in the contaminated areas of his country.

Lukashenko argues that Belarus is surrounded by countries with nuclear power plants, any one of which could suffer a catastrophe and further contaminate his country. Since there are no guarantees that these stations are completely safe, he sees no reason why his country cannot have such a facility of its own.

Of course, Lukashenko says nothing about his attempts to repopulate the contaminated areas of Belarus in an attempt to increase agriculture and industry. After reading “contaminated areas” and “agriculture” in the same sentence, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the potential problems with this policy.

One could argue that if Belarus needs to establish some level of energy independence (and I fully support that), what better than to build a nuclear plant in an already contaminated area. However, that argument falls flat on its face when you consider that Lukashenko is forcing people to repopulate the area.

Yes, you read that right. People are being forced to repopulate contaminated areas of Belarus. Apparently the government is requiring many university graduates to live and work in contaminated areas. If they refuse, students could be stripped of their diplomas or required to reimburse the state for the full cost of their educations.

These work assignments began in 2007 and approximately 25% of this year’s 21,000 graduates are being sent to contaminated areas. So far, around 800 youths have refused their assignments.

12 Comments

Lukashenko is a very interesting character. I have many friends from Belarus, and their opinions of him are very polarized. In essense, the guy is a lunatic, but he has actually done a good job at getting the country moving forward. He is communist at heart, and seems to follow those methods in his administration. This is a certain tragedy, to say the least, but it isn't surprising knowing the source. I hope that he will come to his senses and at least spare the children of his nation.

Zhann,

Thank you for your comment. I am glad you stopped by and shared your knowledge of Lukashenko with us. It is interesting to hear about his accomplishments and I am fascinated about the varying opinions from your friends. We can all have our opinions about such a leader and his methods, but it is most important to find out what the country's citizens truly think.

Very good blog entry. Hardly any entries today, which are based on the truth, which is not based and (wrong) Government facts. In Belarus is no alternative to Lukashenko, because, if you want to be an opposition candidate you can easily lose your job. If you critisize the Belarussian Government in public you'll get 6 months in jail, as a Belarussian citizen. More than 2 million people are still living in contamined areas - AND the WHO, the IAEA and the UN (UNDP) support the re-settlement of contamined areas. It is called the CORE program (of UNDP). It is a French build program, which now cooperates with Lukashenko. Electricite de France is to be rumored to invest money in the first Belarussian reactor. And by the way, thank you for leaving a comment in my Blog. I'm going to continue to read through your website.
kind regards,

Thank you for your comment and stopping by my site. My goal is to find accurate facts and report on them. I did find it interesting when Zhann commented that Lukashenko has done a good job of moving Belarus forward. I am willing to give Lukashenko the benefit of the doubt and believe he had good intentions in making this policy, it's just the wrong one. What I don't like is the altering of facts to justify such a policy. Even though Lukashenko did have studies by his own scientists to back his plan, he didn't need them. He did not even need to alter facts since he can easily justify his decision by using the new policies of WHO, IAEA and UNDP as proof that the area can be repopulated. Unfortunately, proof the contaminated areas are still dangerous will only come several years from now, after these new workers undergo medical tests which will reveal the horrible truth.

Hi, My comment is for your blog in general vs. for this specific entry but I really wanted to let you know how much I respect and enjoy your work. I have been following an interesting maze of articles and photographs that led me from your Chernobyl photographic journey to your zenfolio photos and has landed me here where I have just started to read your blog.

My interest in Chernobyl has started recently. I found out some info that I wanted to confirm and started to research it on the internet. Within hours I went from passive interest to passionate obsession and the need to learn everything about the accident to the people affected now. I have a desperate desire to photograph the area before it deteriorates any further but that is a dream that will remain a dream. The closest I will come is seeing all the amazing photos and articles online. -April

April - Thank you so much for stopping by and providing your feedback. I am pleased that you enjoy the site and appreciate your taking the time to tell us about your interest in Chernobyl.

Lukashenko does know the truth, the facts. He even was a member of one of the first Belarussian Chernobyl NGOs in the early days, after 1986 (before the cold putsch in 1994). After he became President / Dictator, his established "System" with KGB fought and is fighting "his" former NGO and all remaining other NGOs. Call it a big Wearing Down Strategy. He and his staff, his propaganda chief know the facts. But they don't tell them. Independent scientists and international studies get money for their research as long as they can "proove" the following thing: Living in contamined areas is possible. But none of the IAEA or WHO officials would like to see their own children grow up in Cs137 or Strontium90 wastelands. This is the truth. regards,

Can you point us to any reference materials backing your statements that Lukashenko and his staff know the facts, and that independent scientists get research money as long as they can prove that living in contaminated areas is possible? I am not questioning the validity of your statements at all (I truly believe what you have said) - I just want to read the entire text of those references and possibly use them for future posts and research. Thanks.

Ok, the people are not stupid. Of course they know the truth. But they just dont tell the truth. What else should they do? Pay billions of dollars to build new houses (Neo-Malinowka?) and to evacuate millions of people? This is not the U.S. And what would the intenational public say? What? Atomic reactors are dangerous? A heavy attack on atomic industry.
I know people who have been evacuated 4 years after the explosion from a 90 km zone, by the BY Government. 4 years after! Every sovereign state would have to pay recovery of damages - more billions to come. You can see how the ICRP turned around the A.L.A.R.A. principle and its status quo. And the yearly heightened tolerance limit of low radiation.

So, they leave it where it is: Chernobyl is over and radiation cannot cause illness and death - that the same statement as WHO and IAEA say. So why worry? The also do "humanitarian work and help" with the CORE program (which is a shame imo). Lukashenko knows all this. I know people who were in the same NGO as he. Im just small potatoe and a special needs carer, but Ive spoken and lived together with people in Belarus.
And I directly spoke to his propaganda chief in 2006 via microphone during a conference. I cannot tell you names here, it wouldnt do the people any good. You wont find all these data so easily, neither in blogs nor in books. But a good start is the 1996 book "1996 International Peoples Tribunal Chernobyl" - published by the IPPNW. kind regards,

Tekknorg - Thank you for the update. My disappointment in this case is due to the Belorussian government not being up front and honest with the public while attempting to repopulate a contaminated area. This issue actually goes well-beyond Belarus, to the UNDP, WHO and IAEA.

I completely understand your reasoning, however, it is one thing if people know the truth and are willing to move back to the area - that is their own decision. However, it is not right for a government to force people to do such a thing against their will.

Reason why people still live in contamined areas:

- BILLIONS of dollars - nobody has them
- MILLIONS of people being affected - they dont get support
- many gave up
- many are old (Belarus has much more old than yound people)
- Government lies
- Organisations lie
- All TV channels are in Government hands
- People were never told the truth
- If people tell the truth they can come into serious trouble
- Atomic energy is well supported
- Belarus does not have much money
- Belarus is under heavy influence by Russia
- Russia powers atomic power
(... + more)

thats why people "know" the "truth" and are willing to move bach to the area

they dont have an other chance.

regards,

Tekknorg - Thanks for the additional information. I have my own opinions, of course, but I have to keep reminding myself just how completely different things are in Belarus as compared to the United States.