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Chernobyl Liquidator Vladimir Filatov

Chernobyl Liquidator Vladimir Filatov

Vladimir Ivanovich Filatov was born in February 1960 in the village Novo-Troickoe of Dolgorukovski region of Ukraine. He lives in one of the poorest and most run-down areas of Donetsk, and its here in his home that we meet him. Its dark, and outside the blocks of flats there are no street-lights. We walk quickly as there is a high level of criminality in the area and the temperature is bitterly cold with ice and snow challenging our progression. As we approach the appropriate block a large shadow of a man looms in front of us. He steps forward and speaks in a soft voice reaching out to us with an enormous hand. We are relieved to discover its Mr Filatov. We shake hands, exchange pleasantries and follow him as he escorts us to a tiny elevator, which leads to his small apartment in one of the many blocks which surround us.

Vlad is nervous about our visit but after a few minutes he begins to tell us about his story. In his early years he worked on a collective farm in the countryside but at the tender age of 18 he was conscripted to join the army of the Soviet Union and by 1980 he was serving in the Afghanistan wars where he was injured with shrapnel and contracted malaria.
Vlad sifts through paperwork showing us the enormous amount he needs to get through to claim his Chernobyl pension. After his army service he worked in a chemical factory where he remained until 1986 when he was called up to serve in the army again, this time to work at the Chernobyl power plant. Vlad speaks in a quiet humble way and he begins explaining his role at the power plant, “I was working on the construction of the sarcophagus for 4 hours a day but I still received a lot of radiation, I had no idea how serious the consequences would be”.

Chernobyl Liquidator Vladimir Filatov

Before Chernobyl Vlad was a healthy young man but as he goes on to explain it wasn’t long before the effects on his health would become apparent. He often has no energy, feels dizzy and cannot hold-down his food. He has undergone several operations on his stomach and has recurring tumours removed from his throat. He requires constant medical care and regular operations on his oesophagus to enable food to flow to his stomach. He can only consume foods that are in a soft or liquid form.

Vladimir Filatov with wife and dauther

We asked Vladimir if there is any permanent solution to his problem and he answered that the best he can hope for is the possibility to receive the drugs which he needs and cannot currently afford, and the operations. The drugs help stop the tumours recurring and dissolve the food he has digested. For many others life would not be worth living with these problems, and suicide rates are very high for surviving Chernobyl liquidators.

Chernobyl Liquidator Vladimir Filatov

With seemingly insurmountable problems and such a hostile environment to live in Vlad lives for his wife and teenage daughter who is studying at university. They provide a lot of encouragement and financial support for Vladimir, without which he beleives he would not survive.

You can make a difference to Vlad’s life and his family by making a donation to us. Your contribution will help purchase the drugs and operations Vlad needs.


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© 2007 Chernobyl Info. Photographs by Vincent Mundy © 2005