Monika goes to Chernobyl to help people who have been forgotten by everyone. He has a clear message for Russophiles

Monika goes to Chernobyl to help people who have been forgotten by everyone. He has a clear message for Russophiles
Monika goes to Chernobyl to help people who have been forgotten by everyone. He has a clear message for Russophiles

They are called self-seeders. People who live in the radioactive zone around the Chernobyl power plant. For the Ukrainian authorities, they practically do not exist, the army has other concerns and may not even know of their existence, non-governmental organizations have disappeared, as have tourist agencies. Old people live in their cottages completely isolated from the outside world. Monika Nedvědová, a guide who currently has no one to accompany her because of the war, is going to see these people. No one goes to the zone anymore.

I sat in the car and drove

Are you traveling alone or with a group?
I drive all alone. I am a guide in the Chernobyl zone, I go there with tourists, they are Czechs and Slovaks. I have a lot of friends there with whom I work, I host tourists with them. Already at the time when I went there with clients, I took care of these people and took some things there for them. So I have long-term contacts there. I knew I had to help those people as much as I could.

Monika Nedvedová
– born 1990
– graduated from the Business Academy
– She has been a guide in Chernobyl for 5 years
– extends its travel and guide activities to other countries

But when the area was occupied by the Russians, it probably wasn’t possible, right?
Starting with the war, all these people came under Russian occupation, it was impossible to get to them. In the first phase of the war, not only people in Chernobyl, but in the entire Kyiv region came under occupation. So the first aid was directed to the people from all the villages who urgently needed the help at that time. We went there immediately at the moment when the Russian army withdrew from there. I sat in the car and drove there.

Why is the Ukrainian army not supplying the people in the zone?
The army does not have the capacity for this. At the beginning, it had a problem with the central supply of its own people. Russia destroyed the bridges, the main roads could not be used for some time after the occupation, there were mines everywhere. In the end, however, the Ukrainian army actually made it impossible to supply the Chernobyl zone when it tore down the bridges that led there. To this day, I don’t really understand what led them to this. When I told them that there were people living there, they looked at me and claimed that they didn’t know. They said they had no idea anyone lived there. It is generally believed that the zone is abandoned and few know that any people live there.

How did they even get there and how long have they been there?
Those people returned there in the fall of 1986 after the Chernobyl disaster. They basically had no other choice. After the disaster, they moved them to other areas, to schools, churches, to foreign families all over Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. But the local people were afraid of them, that they were contaminated with radiation, that they could somehow pass it on to them. So they were pushed to the margins of society. Around 1,500 people therefore chose to return to Chernobyl. They returned to their ancestral homes, where they lived before, where their ancestors lived. Radiation can’t be seen, so they didn’t know exactly what to be afraid of. So they returned there then and still live there today.

The people in Chernobyl were all pissed off

Were they there the whole time without help?
Until 2010, a state Ukrainian organization operated in the administration of the zone, which provided assistance to these people. Fresh products were delivered there several times a week, they were given flour and non-perishable food. In 2010, the government in Ukraine changed and this organization was abolished. They literally pissed off those people. Once a month, a mobile shop went there, but that was not a state activity, but a private person who felt sorry for those people. He drove products there at three times the price because he himself had to pay various fees to enter the zone. So people in the zone took food from there and what they couldn’t buy, they grew.

Each resident has a field near the cottage that they try to cultivate. Not everyone can do it at their age. All this, however, I am describing the situation that prevailed before the war. During the war, as I said, basically no one cared about the people in the zone. They are people in their eighties on average. The youngest is 70 years old, the oldest grandmother is 95 years old. No young people live there.

Chernobyl disaster
– April 26, 1986
– 31 died directly in the disaster
– a total of 350,400 people were moved during all evacuation waves
– the destroyed power plant is protected by a steel-concrete sarcophagus

The Russians stole what they could, the Ukrainians tore down bridges

Did you see any direct consequences of the war? What does it actually look like there?
I was there for the first time on April 8, which was the first day when it was officially possible to go to the area. It was a week after the Russians left. The area was still being cleared of possible partisans, roads were being demined and so on. I drove through Buča, I saw what was happening there, I also saw Irpiň. As for the zone itself, the zone turned out well. Of course, all the organizations that were active there, whether state or private, left. Everything was totally looted, even forks were stolen from the power plant. There was nothing left at all. The Russians also dug up the Red Forest and made trenches there. But otherwise the zone was not affected in any way. Even the Ukrainian army destroyed bridges in the Chernobyl region.

Because of what?
The official reason was to make it more difficult for a possible Russian attack and return to that territory. I have friends in the Ukrainian army and they told me that the bridge was mined and the Ukrainians could tear it down at any time if they wanted. Why they pulled him forward like that, I don’t know. I don’t understand more things about the Ukrainian army. A lot of things in the zone were destroyed by Ukraine itself. Like the Lenin monument and things like that.

I want to keep those people alive

You are organizing a fundraiser to support these people, tell us more about it.
It’s a fundraiser on the znesznaze21 portal. One humanitarian action costs around 80,000 CZK. Fuel is needed, tolls on highways, buying a ton of products, fuel for the boat. I don’t count accommodation, I live with friends for free and the captain doesn’t want any money for his time and risk either. Financially, it is becoming unbearable for me and my family. I am not a non-profit organization, I do not have the possibility of wider financial support. I am “just” a Czech woman trying to keep a few people alive and with them the whole story of the occupation and accident in Chernobyl.

So I would like to ask your readers for support for these seniors living in the Chernobyl area. We let them know that someone cares about them, that someone will take care of them through the winter. Any financial support will help me organize 2-3 more humanitarian events before the cold hits and help is not possible. The Dnieper River will freeze.

Can’t get across the frozen Dnieper?
It can’t be done. We go to that one village on the Dnieper by boat. It’s about thirty kilometers. It’s the only option when those bridges are no longer standing. We are driving almost at the Belarusian border. Once the river freezes over, it will be impossible to get there.

There are still people who claim that the secret services played a role in Buča, that there were hired actors, that it was all a theater and nothing actually happened. You were there, you saw the destroyed houses, what do you think about these views?
I’ll set the record straight first, because it’s quite a mess here. There is Buča, Boroďanka and Irpiň. Buča was the place where a huge mass grave was found, I saw it with my own eyes. Demolished houses and blocks of flats are again in Boroďanka, a completely destroyed town. In Buča, I didn’t see any bodies lying on the street anywhere, because the locals had already cleared them, but we drove past a mass grave that was being dug up by the Ukrainian army at that very moment. Well, what would I say to those people with similar opinions? All you can say about that is let them go and see it. I would send them there to see for themselves what it’s like there. Or let them go straight to Russia if they like him so much.

WHERE NOW: Chernobyl probably won’t explode, but swirling radioactive dust is a problem.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Monika Chernobyl people forgotten clear message Russophiles

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