This is what the old woman said who, in the year of Chernobyl, tore dill or parsley in her garden. And it was not pessimism, but an awareness of the truth, from which there is no way out
During the night of April 26, 1986, a powerful explosion occurred in the fourth power plant of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A huge radioactive cloud covered not only the territory of modern Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, but also many other countries – Sweden, Austria, Norway, Germany, Finland, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia. Thus began the greatest technological disaster of the 20th century, which changed the lives of millions of people and changed the world. Since then, 34 years have passed. This year is not a “round” date, however, such definitions exist more in the minds of public servants than those who have experienced them. A tragedy of this level, like human memory, does not know “round” or “non-round” dates. It is a pain that cannot be measured by a single dosimeter and cannot be divided into any number. Like life. And the dates come later when the last witness dies.
What was it like – Chernobyl 1986? Humanity has lived its usual life: there have been wars in the world – about fourteen, including the war in Afghanistan; the leaders of two superpowers – the United States and the USSR – Reagan and Gorbachev, have assured each other of their sincere intentions to overcome tensions and reduce nuclear weapons; in Rome, the premiere of Tarkovski’s latest film, Sacrifice, was premiered; Pugacheva sang The Ferryman. Space shuttles flew into space, for the first time it was possible to obtain close-up photographs of Halley’s comet, which for the first time in 75 years has approached Earth. In the USSR, at the XVII Congress of the CPSU, which took place at the end of February-beginning of March 1986, they approved a new version of the CPSU program and a course towards the construction of communism. For the first time, they started talking about advertising. Everything was dignified, but the air already felt the change. Soviet dissident and human rights activist Anatoly (Nathan) Sharansky was released from prison, trading him for two Soviet intelligence agents; Andrei Sakharov was allowed to return from exile in Moscow. However, some Ukrainian political prisoners were still in captivity. But the event not only of this year or decade, but of the entire 20th century was the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
“The situation is under control”
Silence is also a type of lie. Sometimes it can also kill. For many months, the government hid from its citizens the real situation, the real picture of what happened the night of April 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Although it is likely that it does not itself represent the end of the scale of the disaster.
No one has probably imagined the scale of the disaster yet
It was an impressive and enormous lie, imitating care and protection. The press, for its part, published catchy headlines like “The situation under control”.
The first information on the reactor accident appeared on April 26 at 9:30 am from the first secretary of the regional committee of the Kiev party, Grigory Revenko. He said “it does not pose a threat to the people of the city”. For the first time in the press release, Ukrainian Republican radio only reported the accident on April 28, then April 30. On May 8, Ukrainian Minister of Health, Anatoly Romanenko, spoke on Ukrainian television, who also told half the truth. Gorbachev did not appear until May 14. During the televised speech, the head of the USSR claimed that nothing terrible had happened and did not fail to recall that he had to “resist the fictions of bourgeois propaganda”.
At the same time, on June 30, 1986, the KGB of the USSR appeared – a sort of temnik – to stop publishing articles on the Chernobyl accident in the press. Vladimir Shcherbitsky reported in June 1989 in a memorandum from the Central Committee of the CPSU “On the situation in the nuclear power plants of the Ukrainian SSR”: “The work of awareness-raising and propaganda does not produce significant results”.
In April 1988, several residents of Kiev turned to the authorities to ask them to mark the second anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. Of course, the authorities refused. About 20 people gathered near the city’s executive committee, but were arrested by police “for spreading false rumors”. It was not until the eve of the first congress of people’s deputies of the USSR, on May 24, 1989, that the leadership of the USSR decided to partially declassify Chernobyl news. It was then, three years after the accident, during this congress that the first flawless truth about Chernobyl resounded. Official censorship has started to weaken.
Man and Chernobyl
However, as the totalitarian monster writhed in the climaxes of lies and helplessness, ordinary people – the citizens of Soviet Ukraine – had to take care of themselves in the absence of any clear and reliable information . They were possessed by anxiety and despair. Death was hiding everywhere – in mowed grass, in green leaves, in an apple on a tree, in a caught fish … The enemy became invisible. “The sun is shining, it is raining, nobody shoots, neither smoke nor gas … but we have to become refugees …”; “How do we understand where we are?” What is happening to us? Here … Now … There is no one to ask … “.
Evacuee organized by buses
… and by themselves – who can
One of the most truthful testimonies of the Chernobyl disaster in its human dimension was the book of the future Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksievich “Chernobyl Prayer. Chronicle of the future. “These are burning and very intimate stories of those who survived the disaster.
The fireman’s wife, Lyudmila Ignatenko, remembers the one whose HBO made the miniseries on Chernobyl: “I have not seen the explosion. Single flame. Everything seemed to shine, all the sky … Great flame. Soot. The heat is terrible. But all this is not and is not. Soot from the fact that the bitumen was burning, the station roof was filled with bitumen. I went, I remember then, as in the field. They shot the fire and he passed them. Pink. They threw the graphite with their feet, and it burned … They left without canvas suits, as they were in the same shirts, and left. They were not warned, they were called to a normal shooting … At seven o’clock, they told me that he was in the hospital. I ran, and around the hospital, the police were in a ring, they did not let anyone in. Only the ambulances arrived. The police shouted: the cars are out of scale, don’t come. I am not alone, all the women came running, all those whose husbands were at the post that evening … I saw him … He is all swollen, swollen … is not visible … Many doctors, nurses, especially the nurses of this hospital will fall ill after a while … They will die … But no one knew then … no one spoke of radiation .. . Only the soldiers wore respirators … The citizens transported bread in the stores, bags of open candies … Cakes were lying on trays … Normal life … “
Vasily and Lyudmila Ignatenko, marriage
Lyusa was only 23 years old at the time; she and her sweetheart recently married and are expecting a baby.
Vasily Ignatenko died in a Moscow hospital on May 13, 1986, at the age of 25. “In the hospital for two days … I’m going to pick it up, and the bone is swinging, the bone is hanging, the body tissue has moved away from it … pieces of lungs, pieces of liver went through the mouth … suffocated from the inside … I wrap my hand in a bandage and put it in his mouth, I will rake everything “… you can not say! You will not write it! You won’t even survive it. The Ukrainian firefighter was buried in Moscow at the Mitinsky cemetery. They couldn’t put on their uniforms – there was no whole body, they buried them barefoot – their legs were very swollen. In a cellophane bag, in two coffins – wood and zinc, under concrete slabs. The funeral took place under the supervision of the KGB. The born daughter, Natasha, with congenital heart disease and cirrhosis, is buried near her father.
Tombs of the liquidators of the Mitinsky cemetery in Moscow
Aleksievich notes that she did not write on Chernobyl, but on the “world of Chernobyl”, on the “disaster of the time”. “In one night, we were transported to another place in history. They jumped into another reality, and that reality turned out not only to be beyond our knowledge, but also beyond our imagination. The connection of times has broken. “Chernobyl has proven to be an unknown and secret sign, a new challenge that humanity still cannot decipher:” It has become clear: in addition to the communist, national and new religious challenges, among which we live and survive, there are other challenges ahead, getting worse and worse only out of sight. “
Ukrainian literary critic, translator Mikhaylina Kotsyubynska also noted the complex Chernobyl syndrome – “how it affected our souls”: “Post-Chernobyl Kiev – Kiev without children (I remembered such a picture: sandboxes cleaned sand and washed on the asphalt in a nursery school of my home). Escape the Radiation: Save the Children! Solidarity – and selfishness. Information loop. Defenseless. Feeling of abuse ”.
An interesting proof of this end of the Soviet era is the memories of the Ukrainian poet Irina Zhilenko:
04/28/86 “The evening was magnificent, incredible. And … like a blow to the head with an ass – the terrible news of the Chernobyl accident. The explosion of the reactor, many victims, radiation. Rumors were already circulating about this, but we probably knew nothing at all … There was turmoil in Kiev. And it was only when panicked abroad that the government was forced to report that in Chernobyl, “following the accident”, there was a “radiation leak” and “it there are victims. ” It’s as if a handful of these victims … People were taken out of the Chernobyl regions. And the radiation spreads, and the fire will be put out. And fear cools the heart … ”People were lost, worried about the children. And the government is the operational group of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, meanwhile, it has decided to organize the May Day demonstration and the bicycle race for peace in the first days of May.
May Day demonstration took place in Khreshchatyk “as always”
Even the international cycling race has not been canceled
May 1, 86 “It seems there has never been as much festive enthusiasm for the faithful subjects of the masses as today. God, is there a limit to human stupidity and cynicism of power? 80 children were brought to New Ukraine, to the hospital (as they say). Irradiated. They wrote to all the inhabitants, even suffering from infectious diseases, to welcome these poor people. And we once saw an apocalyptic disaster during a cholera epidemic … In Kiev, the radiations increased a lot, there was a threat of water cut … “
05/05/86 “The government is nasty and incredibly silent or brave. The rumors are getting terrifying, I don’t want to think about it or talk about it. They say you should drink iodine (5 capsules. glass of water), they say you don’t have to walk with your head uncovered and wash it every day; Don’t drink milk, but drink vodka. They say, they say … And this ” they say “is the only source of information. The government claims that nothing remarkable has happened. And instead of declaring mourning for the dead, May Day is stronger than ever. In Kiev, brass bands thunder in all the parks, the party uncles, send their own children out of trouble, shine their teeth in the sun, and we wither from ignorance of the situation and apocalyptic forebodings … “
Irina Zhilenko, 1970
Hysteria, panic, hesitation, deceptive comfort and despair again on the verge of madness. Record of May 7, 86 “Every second in Kiev, rumors: that the reactor was smothered and that the radiation was buried in the ground; then – nothing like that, but on the contrary – radiation increases … Schools, children have been dismissed. Children rejoice, stupid … Students and graduates have early exams. Terrible things happen in stations. Our neighbor, Vera Petrova, tried to get tickets somewhere, but couldn’t. The cars did not leave Kiev (5th). On the 6th, they started to free themselves. The government (would die to the hundredth knee!) Reports soothing facts. In Kiev, it is impossible to withdraw money from a savings book. No money. Make lists. I tried and I turned 86th. It is to stay 4 to 5 hours in total uncertainty if there is enough money … There is absolutely no drink. For the vile shmurdyak – queues of kilometers. Since there are rumors that alcohol removes radiation. We are besieged by silence and mocking indifference. Like, die, gentlemen of the Ukrainians, and we will pretend you are walking at the wedding. “
“Yesterday, at a press conference, our Minister of Energy declared rhythmically and categorically (such a fascist, arrogant and cruel snout!) That” nuclear energy cannot be stopped! It will develop. “So death for all of us – not now, so on Thursday. I may be too frank in my diary, because times are threatening and cruel again. But otherwise I cannot …”
08/05/86 “At Novaya Ukrainka, the radiation is very high. What we have – we don’t know. But there is no hope that it will not reach us. In Kiev, the children were organized from the 15th to the pioneer camp … Yesterday, I saw Verina, an old mother, calmly plucking onions and radishes from the garden. I told him it shouldn’t be done. And she (a completely illiterate peasant, half deaf) gave me a lesson in wisdom, not so much wisdom, as a visionary understanding of our situation. She said, “The earth has been poisoned for a long time, not for a year or two. From a distance, we will not leave it. No one needs us anywhere. And we ourselves cannot leave our land forever. Either way, we will eat the fruits of our land, because if we do not eat, we will die. “It was told to me by the old woman, and I realized that this is not pessimism, it is an awareness of the truth, from which there is no way out, which means (if there is no way out), reconciliation with it and acceptance … “
Земля, отравленная надолго
1.06.86 г. “Гнев, горечь, отчаяние, ненависть, безнадежность и страх. Все сплелось в один змеиный клубок и не дает дышать. Жлобская, жестокая и тупая страна. Мы даже в этой ситуации нашли повод трубить и хвастаться. Героизмом советских людей. Оптимизмом советских людей и т. д. На газетных фотографиях – торжествующие, радостные физиономии чернобыльцев, потому что это же радость: их земля, и они сами, уничтожены, осквернены во веки веков. Ненавижу… »
И в завершение: “Тихая, неслышная походка смерти. И мы уже не дети Божьи, а злой, обреченный муравейник… ”
Вот такой одинокий непафосный человеческий голос, оставшийся от тех времен, кроме печальных годовщин. После всего остается чей-то правдивый голос и остается память. В противоположность пафосу. Пафос рано или поздно сдувается, как воздушный шарик. Какой бы ярким он ни был. Мы это знаем.
Светлана Шевцова, Киев
According to the materials: ukrinform.ru