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Chernobyl: a minute of silence


The 26th of April 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. In order to honour the memory of the victims of the tragedy and players in the management of the Chernobyl accident, an all-Ukrainian action was initiated, a minute of silence, to preserve the memory of the consequences of the biggest man-made catastrophe of the 20th century and protect humanity from future radioactive threats.


According to UNSCEAR the Chernobyl disaster was one of the most dangerous nuclear accidents. Historians emphasize the political responsibility of the communist regime, which endangered the lives and health of millions of citizens for ideological interests. Due to imperfect construction, violation of construction technology, the use of low-quality building materials, numerous mini-catastrophes, such a man-made catastrophe in the USSR could not but happen.

After the Chernobyl accident, the Ukrainian diaspora showed a high civic position and activity in the world. It organised demonstrations, prepared appeals to the governments of Western countries, collected materials about the tragedy. In September 1986, the foreign leadership of the Ukrainian Main Liberation Council made significant efforts to bring the Chernobyl issue to the UN.

In the post-accident period, environmental and national democratic movements intensified, especially in Ukraine. On April 26, 1988, the first unauthorised demonstration took place in Kyiv under the slogans: “Down with the NPP from Ukraine”, “UCC – for a nuclear-free Ukraine”, “We do not want dead zones”, “NPP – for a referendum”, “Industry, land, water – under ecological control”, “ Everyone has a personal dosimeter ”. In many regions, both in the East and in the West, people protested against the construction of new and operation of old nuclear power plants.


The Chernobyl disaster in numbers and dates

  • In 1977, the first unit of the Chernobyl NPP was launched.
  • The fourth power unit of the Chernobyl NPP operated for 2 years – it was launched at full capacity in 1984. It was the “youngest” and most modern reactor.
  • For 2 days the world knew nothing about the explosion.
  • 30 NPP employees have died in an explosion or acute radiation sickness within months of the accident.
  • According to independent experts, 500,000 people died from radiation.
  • 8.5 million people in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia received significant doses of radiation in the days following the accident.
  • 90,784 people were evacuated from the 81st settlement of Ukraine by the end of the summer of 1986.
  • More than 600,000 people were liquidators of the accident. fighting the fire and clearing the debris.
  • 2293 Ukrainian cities and towns with a population of approximately 2.6 million people were contaminated with radioactive nuclides.
  • 200,000 square kilometers – radiation spread to such an area. Of these, 52,000 square kilometers were agricultural land.
  • For 10 days, from April 26 to May 6, the release of activity from the damaged reactor lasted at the level of tens of millions of curies per day, after which it decreased thousands of times. Experts call this period the active stage of the accident.
  • 11 tons of nuclear fuel were released into the atmosphere as a result of the accident at the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl NPP.
  • 400 species of animals, birds and fish, 1,200 species of flora continue to exist in the “exclusion zone”, where due to significant and catastrophic pollution of air, soil and water, people are forbidden to live.
  • From April 26 to October 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant did not operate. In October 1986, Units 1 and 2 were re-commissioned; in December 1987 he resumed the work of the 3rd. Unit 4 did not work.
  • 1991 – A fire broke out at the 2nd power unit, as a result of which the operation of this reactor was blocked.
  • December 1995 – signing of a memorandum between Ukraine and the G7 countries and the Commission of the European Union, which defined the preparation of a programme for the complete closure of the station.
  • December 15, 2000 – The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down completely.
  • September 2010 – laying of the foundation for a new sarcophagus over the destroyed 4th power unit, in April 2012 the construction of the arch, that was supposed to cover the Shelter started, in October 2011, the construction of the Centralized Storage of Spent Ionizing Sources began on the site of the Vector complex radiation.
  • On November 29, 2016, the advancement of the arch over the 4th power unit was completed.

The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is the central executive body of Ukraine with a special status.

The purpose of the UINP is to develop and implement a comprehensive state policy of national memory, namely – to implement a system of measures aimed at preserving and restoring the memory of the people, overcoming the effects of the totalitarian past and changing public relations for the development of democratic practices, rights and freedoms human rights, civic tolerance and the restoration of justice for the victims of political repression, genocide and crimes against humanity that took place on the territory of Ukraine in 1917–1991.