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Interviews with Chernobyl Liquidators

Between 23 - 29th of March 2005 Humanity For Chernobyl completed interviews with Chernobyl Liquidators in their native city of Donetsk in far eastern Ukraine. Whilst serving compulsory military service for the USSSR tens of thousands were sent to the reactor in Chernobyl to try to contain the radioactivity. We met with victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe and their families in the Makeyevka district of Donetsk and interviewed 7 men who worked at the power plant in the days and weeks after the explosion at Chernobyl.

The Condition of life for these people is disastrous. Chernobyl victims face not only continual major health problems but also economical and political problems in Ukraine that make life for many almost impossible, especially Chernobyl victims - one of the most unprotected people in Ukraine. High prices for food and medical treatment make it very difficult for Chernobyl victims to survive. Many of those people are not able to receive the medical attention they desperately require and have a tiny pension which goes nowhere near towards the actual cost to buy necessary medical drugs.

Soldiers that had injuries before Chernobyl in addition were sent to work in the plant. One of Chernobyl victims was serving in Afghanistan. He received 3 injuries and malaria, and 5 years letter was sent to Chernobyl. Another person was the only one of 14 people that survived a mining accident and few years later was sent to Chernobyl. Unfortunately the pension for these people is not equivalent to their achievements serving their country. Their small pensions do not allow them to buy essential medical drugs, ones that help their digestive system, support kidneys and fight diseases that affect the brain and nervous system. The Chernobyl catastrophe affected all organs of their body and most victims need continual hospital treatment.

Chernobyl victims who are able to perform some kind of work are trying to find it, but afraid to say that they are Chernobyl victims as Ukrainian companies may not want to employ them. One of the victims enjoyed working in school with kids but had to leave after he lost his continence in front of the children. In Ukraine it is not easy to find and keep jobs even for young and healthy people and there is no place for invalids.

We were deeply moved by the resilient nature of the liquidator families considering the shocking conditions and environment they must live in. Every chernobyl victim that we met is a hero having served a duty to humanity at large. Some are unable to continue, thousands have already passed away and more and more each day fall prey to their diseases which have been left practically untreated. Many are only alive due to their love and support of their families who work hard to support them.

Without additional support their lives are bound to end shorter than they deserve.
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© 2007 Chernobyl Info. Photographs by Vincent Mundy © 2005