... I see "liquidators" running with old-fashioned protection
suitsinto a huge pile of rubble and carrying some nuclear fuel
parts,graphite or metal parts with their hands from the one side of
what hasbeen the roof of a reactor hall to the other side trying to
"clean itup". They run for their lives. For a very long 90 seconds.
Then thenext group is sent into the rubble.
... I see the journalist Lyubov Kovalevskaya entering an
evacuation busin the nuclear workers' city of Pripyat' then. And I
hear the thinvoice she has as a consequence of her thyroid problems
... I see helicopters throwing sand into a burning hole.
... I see 16-year-old Katya in Kiev, 90 km south of Chernobyl,
scaredto death by a danger she can't see, she can't sense, getting
on a trainfor Leningrad to escape from radiation. She has never
moved back toKiev. This was the "sudden end of my childhood" as she
said yearslater. Katya is my wife.
... I see black-and-white pictures of smiling "pioneer"
childrenmarching on the streets on the May 1st demonstration
receiving highlevels of radiation - 5 days after the explosion,
hardly anyone hadbeen told about what had happened.
... I see black-and-white pictures of the "bicycle race for
peace"starting 10 days after the accident from Lenin Square
(nowIndependence Square) in the city centre of Kiev with thousands
ofspectators along the street.
... I see Gorbachev on a TV screen after a terribly long 18 days
ofsilence explaining to the Soviet and international public what
... I see water trucks "washing" the streets, soldiers with gas
masksand I hear commands over megaphones, voices crying and Geiger
... I see hundreds of thousands of people like war refugees
carryingall their valuables in their suitcases and hastily leaving
their houses andtheir pasts behind.
... I see overcrowded Soviet-style hospitals.
... I see old women carrying wooden buckets with "fresh" water
from awell to their homes some 15 km away from the reactor, whom I
metwhen I was on a Greenpeace nuclear campaign excursion to
... I see thousands of candles at a mourning celebration on
Kiev's Independence Square in 1996.
... I see the red face and hear the cynical laugh of Valery
Krilkorovfrom the Union of Chernobyl Victims who I met with in 1995
and who wasdead when I contacted his organisation 2 years
... I see pale-looking teenagers with worried, big eyes at a
child's therapy centre in Kiev queuing up for a health check.
... I see myself being scared when I realised that my Geiger
counterdidn't work while I was taking samples from the soil in what
theliquidators had called the "red forest" 1 km from the
... I see the words "Remember Chernobyl" beamed on a wall of the
Sarcophagus by Greenpeace Russia and Greenpeace Ukraine.
Tobias is a political analyst
forGreenpeace in Germany. He wrote this remembrance on 26 April,
2005,the 19th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.