Slav Konstantin Nikolayevich
was born in a large family. The eldest of 7 children
he tells us how he felt a responsibility to help raise
his younger siblings. A responsible man who now relies
on the love and hard work of his family to carry on
as long as he can. Now with grandchildren Slav tells
us how lucky he feels to still be alive; “every
day liquidators are dying of some disease or another”
he say’s, “each day I fell blessed to still
be here watching my grandchildren grow up”.
Although Initially trained as
a teacher Slav with all his responsibility needed to
maximise his income and do as much overtime as possible
and it wasn’t long before the coalmines beckoned.
His large family were poor and as his father had died
when he was a small child the so the burden of responsibility
to earn money and put bread on the table was his from
a young age. In 1973 he began his army service but in
September 1987 Slav was called to perform military duties
at the Chernobyl power plant. He was to become one of
the many now infamous “Liquidators”.
>Looking at Slav and other liquidators it is difficult
to understand how much their health has been destroyed.
Well-dressed and groomed Slav shows no outward signs
of illness, as it’s inside that the radiation
has taken its toll. “I take a combination of drugs,
the cheapest ones are the only ones I can afford, it’s
not what I’m supposed to take but I do not have
any other choice”. Slav, like other liquidators
lives on a measly state Chernobyl pension of $100 per
month. Hardly enough to buy food and pay bills never
mind buy drugs and pay for operations. “If it
wasn’t for my family and my family hard work I
would simply not be here,” he explains.
“Our battalion was removing the water from around
the reactor which had been used to dampen down the fires.
This water was extremely radioactive. But had to be
removed to allow us to hollow out the concrete and use
jackhammers to to remove the lead, and then put in new
to concrete. In some cases the radiation was so high
it was necessary to repeat the work two or three times
He begins to tremble and tears well in his eyes and
its clearly very difficult to talk about this time but
he carries on; " we collected and dumped radio-active
materials from the roofs of the plant into the base
of the sarcophagus called the “burial grounds”
and it was around the burial grounds that the sarcophagus
health problems & numerous diseases effecting the
brain, nervous system and digestive system, Slav is
still trying to work. He doesn’t tell anybody
at his workplace that he is liquidator and he requires
serious medical care & observation. It seems extraordinary
but it seems to be a recurring theme that employers
will fire men if they realise they were liquidators.
Chernobyl is a taboo subject in Ukraine and being a
Chernobyl victim does not win you any favours. Slav
and others like him suffer not only enormous challenges
to their health but they also face being stigmatised
by their own communities.
You can make a difference to Konstantin’s
life and his family by making a donation to us. Your
contribution will help purchase the drugs and operations