Vadim Shilko, journalist, Luninez, Belarus

"Chernobyl is history. Unfortunately."

Vadim Shilko is the deputy editor of the independent weekly Progulka, which has a circulation of 12,000 copies (of which 2,000 are subscribers) in the 25,000-person town of Luninez in southern Belarus. Shilko lost his job at a state museum when he was a correspondent at the newspaper. Since then he been part of the 12-person editorial team.
"The Chernobyl disaster occurred on 26 April 1986. We were only officially notified in Luninez one week later as the May 1st parades had taken place as usual. By then around a quarter of the radioactive fallout had already come down. But even when it was official, the authorities didn't once mention the radioactive iodine, which had already spread throughout the thyroid. Even the first resettlements were concealed in the beginning. This only changed after they could no longer be kept secret. There was a lot of cynicism. The compensation paid out at the time was widely regarded as coffin money. We've lived with the radiation since then. These days Chernobyl seems far away: increasingly more land is freed up for housing and farming, and the authorities insist at every opportunity that everything is in order and we shouldn't worry any more. But most of the people here are tired. I understand this. You can't live in constant fear, especially if you have no possibility to move away. Many people no longer want to hear about the dangers of radiation as they have other things to worry about. Living costs have nearly doubled and many have no work. It's about surviving in the here and now, not about the risk of cancer in a distant, uncertain future. And so you distract yourself as best as you can, or you develop a belief that you can't escape fate. This might have a lot to do with our history, too. The Belarusians have suffered like no other nation in the 20th century. Perhaps we have collectively internationalised one thing as a result: patience. Chernobyl is history. Unfortunately. Against this fatalistic backdrop, Belarus of all countries is now building a nuclear power plant, the first on Belarusian soil. For me, this is a crime against the Belarusian nation.



Who we are

Founded in 2012, the Association for Sustainable Journalism on the Internet is committed to high-quality, independent on-line journalism that stands the test of time. The association promotes and runs journalistic websites dedicated to topics that are hardly covered any more in conventional media. Its members include journalists, photographers, designers and web designers.

Pressbüro Seegrund, which was founded in 1989, is firmly established in the media landscape. Its focus is on feature reports, reportage and non-fiction books. It has launched a number of online magazines in recent years including www.alpenmagazin.org, www.mangel-und-moral.org, and the latest creation: www.mensch-und-atom.org.

About

Publisher:
Association for Sustainable Journalism in Internet,
Neugasse 30,
CH-9000 St. Gallen

 

Editor:
Pressebüro Seegrund,
Neugasse 30, PO Box 445,
CH-9004 St. Gallen,
Tel. +41(0)71 671 10 73,
www.seegrund.ch,

 

Website design and programming:
Eveline Arnold Ukaegbu, Proclamation,
Zypressenstrasse 138,
CH-8004 Zürich,
www.proclamation.ch

 

English translation:
Elana Summers

 

Russian translation:
Alexej Scherbakov

 

Local interpretors: Galina Kovalch (Belarus),
Irina Gasanova (Ukraine), Chikako Yamamoto (Japan)

 

Authors:
Martin Arnold, freelance journalist, author and media entrepreneur for the past 30 years
Urs Fitze, freelance journalist, reportage on politics, the economy, science, travel and the environment" target="_blank">www.seegrund.ch,

 

 

Our Aim

Without provoking or causing a scandal, www.society-and-the-atom.org wants to shake things up a bit by encouraging society to reflect on a subject that affects all of us: nuclear power. It is a subject that polarises, turning opponents and supporters into ideologues. And it is a subject that divides the informed and the uninformed in a way that creates intentional and unintentional dependencies. Against the background of the current debates on the 'energy transition', we want to contribute a critical discussion for all those who want to more know about nuclear power. And we want to do our bit to overcome the deep ideological divide that separates supporters and opponents. When it comes to this subject, the truth very quickly becomes relative – or is made relative. You move around in an area where experts, opinion makers, ideologues, affected persons, victims, lobbyists, politicians and world saviours jostle against each other. Everyone should be able to have their say, to tell their truth. The truth of the radiation victims as well as that of the power plant operators, the supporters and the opponents. The second objective of the book is to explore the many facets of truth – and remain receptive to all those who want to make it comfortable for us.

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