Lviv is a home to more than three thousand people affected by the disaster at the ChNPP. Until now, people live with memories of their small homeland. They regret a lot, but time takes its toll. We got used to many things, except for one thing. Until now, people are outraged not by the accident, but by the attitude towards the victims. They worry about the lies that the Soviet government “fed” the entire population.
Only at the beginning of 1992, Tatyana Mayorova managed to move with her son to Lviv. She comes from the village of Polesskoye in the Kiev region, which is 70 kilometers from Chernobyl. Tatiana worked as a commodity expert at a garment factory in Polesskoye. But in Lviv, she had to start all over again.
“It was hard because we left our native land. At first, there was no job or livelihood. Money that I saved then disappeared due to inflation. There was only one plus. We got an apartment, like all the evacuees. Those who left Pripyat immediately after the accident mainly settled in Kiev and the region. The rest moved in according to the availability of housing. Some managed to get an apartment even in Moscow.
“In the early 1990s, there was a problem with work. Many Lviv residents traveled with “kravchuchki” to Poland and stood at the markets. We had to earn our living in the same way. It was hard not only for us, it was hard for everyone,” Tatiana Mayorova says.
Before moving to Lviv, Tatiana’s family lived in her native Polesskoye. The accident scared everyone. But the village was not immediately evacuated. Only 10 days after the accident, the villagers were advised not to let their children out of the house and to close the windows. And before that, all the children ran down the street, went to school or kindergarten. People worked. Officials and doctors “consoled” people. And people lived in these “consolations” for several years after the accident. Some believed that 70 km from Chernobyl was quite far, while others simply had nowhere to go. So, they lived in radiation and in lies.
People did not understand the scale of the disaster
“At first, it was not scary. We were at home and were glad that we did not leave like the others. After ten days we were told to keep the children in the house and not to eat milk. How’s that? The villagers had their own vegetable garden. People kept goats and cows in every yard. We ate and drank everything, including milk, all these days until the warning. We did not understand the scale and consequences of what actually happened at the ChNPP. And then, we received such an “official warning” about the danger. We began to pour out all the milk. But here to go? And what to do?
However, the warning was belated. It turned out that we constantly had a high level of radiation. Many complained of constant headaches. Children have blood on their pillows every morning. When you open a school notebook, you see that there is blood on the pages.
I remember how the first strawberries appeared very quickly. The berries were large and eye-cathing, but we didn’t eat them. And we didn’t give them to the children. Only the elderly did not pay attention to anything. They did not really believe in radiation. Then apples and plums appeared. However, we didn’t allow the children to pick anything. They wondered: why? After all, apples were without worms.
One day, a member of the Central Committee Valentina Shevchenko came to Polesskoye. She got out of the car, took off my shoes and walked on the ground. Then she said that we have nothing to fear because everything is clean. However, they decided to send our children to rest in Zaporozhye. Of course, this outraged us. Because we saw how windows and roads were washed. A layer of earth and sand was removed one by one. The first layer, the second, the third… Everything contained radiation. We saw that people got sick, dying. And the state consoled that everything was fine with us,” Tatiana Mayorova says.
People reached Moscow with the demand for evacuation
People began to sound the alarm, demanded to be evacuated. However, local officials did not want to solve the problem. In 1989, a delegation from the villages of Polesskoye and Narodichi went to Moscow to seek a meeting with the high authorities. The villagers demanded the urgent evacuation of a number of settlements, not originally included in the Exclusion Zone. We achieved it. So, Polesskoye and Narodichi were evacuated in 1990.
Maria Petrovna Ivanova still dreams of her native Narodichi. “People, like a twig from a tree, gradually dry up. Only memories of Narodichi remained. I remember the morning of April 25-26, 1986. I look at the road. People are going and going, bus after bus… They say, Chernobyl shot. Well, it shot. But who needs it, they will figure it out.
The next day, they began to ask us to shelter at least one of the evacuees for the night. Fear settled in people’s heads. We took one family with two school-age children. On May 1, the children went to a meeting. Suddenly, a couple of people fell near the monument to Lenin. They had blood from the nose and fainting. At first, they thought it was because of the heat. Doctors said it was sunstroke. Then, the first information began to appear that not everything is as good as they say.
My child was in the 9th grade. One morning, I saw blood on my son’s pillow. I take him and we immediately go to the doctor. We were reassured. They say do not worry. This is the child’s pressure. So, we lived with this lie. Even after the evacuation, no one took into account that we were from the Chernobyl zone. This is how we live, or rather, we survive,” Maria Ivanova said.
People had to immediately announce that all the children should be taken out not only from the 30-kilometer zone. The radiation dust spread chaotically. Self-isolation would still not give anything. Of course, the evacuation of the 30 km zone was belated, but the right decision. On the other hand, the isotopes of uranium, strontium, and plutonium fell to other territories. And people should have known about this in order to at least try to evacuate their children.
Many Chernobyl victims are sure that it was precisely because of the lies. This followed the Chernobyl accident, and the USSR collapsed. On the one hand, people witnessed the unprecedented heroism of our liquidators. And on the other hand, there were unprecedented lies, hiding the truth, “blurring out white spots”. People lived in a world of frustration and fear of their own illusions. They began to talk that a new disaster could happen at the ChNPP. Negligence with regard to the organization of individual work related to the elimination of the consequences of the accident was no longer a secret.
“Our children, having reached the age of 30-35, became disabled because of the “comforting lies” that the Soviet leadership imposed on us. By the end of 2019, out of the 30 thousandth population of the Polesie region, 22 thousand people have died. They died not only of cancer and exacerbation of chronically illnesses. They also died because of lies. Ukraine must learn a lesson: people should always know the truth. This can save their lives and health,” Tatiana Mayorova said.
Today, few people go to Narodichi and Polesskoe to visit their relatives’ graves. Those who find the strength to come have an ache for the lost homeland. Their homeland has become a dead zone. But despite this, people come together and remember their parents, childhood, or friends. They remember the terrible tragedy 34 years ago, the truth that was hidden from them, which changed their lives forever. “Our statistics are sad. Not a month goes by without being informed that one of our fellow countrymen has died,” Maria Petrovna Ivanova sadly says.