Chernobyl and Pripyat are not the only inhabited places that suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe, of course. It affected 230 settlements in the Kiev and Zhitomir regions and approximately the same number of settlements in Belarus. The contaminated villages on the Belorussian side were mostly buried while the Ukrainian ones are still getting slowly overgrown and captured by the nature. However some houses are taken care of – their windows are regularly painted, gardens nearby are well-kept. Yes, some people do come back to the exclusion zone – mainly elderly ones who remember the war days, it’s very important for them – to live on the native land. They amounted to a bit more than a thousand, less than 200 remained. One old couple even lives in the 10 km zone.
No garbage at all!
We’re in the village Rudnya-Veresnya.
Local people resemble neither Ukrainians nor Belorussians. They have a unique appearance and dialect. Forests are so dense there that even Wehrmacht troops could not meet because of them.
The village still has some churches, the oldest one is dated 1760.
Kulovatoye village was said to be “clean” but as it was a part of a state farm with other villages which were contaminated, Kulovatoye was included into the exclusion zone and evacuated as well. Today there are eighteen people living there.
Granny Ganya is one of them. She says people who live in Kulovatoye feel very lonely.
Typical house for the region.
The interior of the grannby’s house resembles a museum of ethnography, it seems we’re back in the 50s and only the TV set in the corner stands out.
Another granny who lives here does not move much and looks pale.
People who illegally came back to the exclusion zone were legalized only in 1993. It’s hard to say why they had not been deported earlier. The first years were the hardest – without electricity and pensions, medical care. Later Ukraine accepted their existance – communications were restored, each village got a radio telephone, villagers started to get supplementary pensions. A mobile shop started to come to their villages weekly, radio telephones were subsequently replaced with cellphones. They grow their own food (“do not bring them potatoes and berries – they will be offended!”).
Water from the village well.
Utensils, marrows, hens – they do not keep bigger cattle though.
Table with a dosimeter – the Chernobyl still life. Nevertheless this food is less harmful than brought to shops from China.
They say that some people come to the villages to settle on the vacant land. Guards often catch mushroomers and berry-pickers who do not eat what they find here but sell it in the Kiev region! Drug addicts and drug-dealers often attempt to grow cannabis on this land. There is even a rumour that rich people buy plots of land in the exclusion zone to build summer houses there but it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s true or not.
Most houses are abandoned anyway…
This swamp probably could kill some nazi invaders in 1941-43…
There are many cats in the village, can’t say the same about dogs.
The air here is very clean, the silence is not dead like in Pripyat but natural, ringing one.
It’s the place where you may leave your car or house unlocked. Nobody has enemies here. It’s not people who may kill you here…