Report from Chernobyl: Russians squatting in contaminated soil

Chernobyl Report
The Russians squatting in the contaminated soil

By Nadja Kriewald, Chernobyl

The Russian troops who took over the disused Chernobyl nuclear power plant do not seem to have had measuring devices. They made marks in the streets to orient themselves. In the “red forest” the soldiers could have dug their own grave.

Yevgeni Markevicz does not understand all this noise. The 85-year-old has lived here in Chernobyl all his life. Shortly after the reactor disaster in April 1986, he and his wife were forced from their home. At that time they left on a motorcycle, but a few days later they were back.

This time he stayed. “The Russian soldiers, they were still so young, they were always standing there in the house,” he says of the occupation of the disused nuclear power plant. He wasn’t afraid of them. He heard gunshots, but then everything was quiet again.

He is also not afraid of radioactivity. He grows fruits and vegetables in the garden in front of his house, and his wife frys the fish she caught in the kitchen. But he has a Geiger counter, he points out, and still measures radiation.

The soldiers could barely find their way

The Russian soldiers probably did not have measuring devices. From the first day of the war, they were placed in the exclusion zone. They could hardly find their way, because there are not many signs here. To make it clear in which direction Belarus is and where kyiv is, they painted markings on the streets. They never arrived in kyiv.

Their first target was the destroyed reactor. When the Russian tanks arrived, a war of nerves began for the workers at the nuclear power plant ruins, says shift manager Dmytro Yatsymon, pointing to the forecourt of the power plants. That’s where the tanks were. They demanded control: “We negotiated with them. And the National Guard and the leadership decided that we would not fight.

For weeks in the “Red Forest”

It was too dangerous to resist. Because under the dome, the so-called sarcophagus, is the exploded reactor, a lot of radioactive waste. In the event of deterioration of the protective cover, the radioactivity would be released into the environment. This would have far-reaching consequences.

The National Guard men were disarmed and forced to stay, along with the workers. Normally they are replaced every twelve hours. Now they were hostages, Yatsymon says: “They had to work here non-stop for 25 days before being exchanged.” The men of the National Guard even had to stay 35 days.

There was temporarily no electricity, they switched to diesel generators. Contact with the Ukrainian supervisory authorities has been broken. And the radioactivity in the area has increased. Because the Russians drove through the forest with their tanks, raising radioactive dust. And it got even worse.

In the “red forest”, where all the trees are dead and the radiation is highest, they dug protective trenches. You can stay here for a short time. But the soldiers slept, ate, lived in the contaminated soil for weeks. When they left at the end of March, some of them were probably suffering from radiation sickness. Ukrainian authorities report that they left in a panic. It is as if the Russian soldiers at Chernobyl had dug their own grave.

Leave a Comment