From Chechnya to Chernobyl


The tiny, little-known country of Belarus suffered more than any other in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Winds scattered the heaviest radioactive deposits across the country, where, even after a decade, 25% of the land is judged uninhabitable. Thousands of villages and towns were abandoned or evacuated, and their populations resettled to safer areas.

When I learned that local governments were encouraging people to resettle these irradiated villages, I decided to go there with a camera. I arrived in the village of Besiet, which was evacuated several years after the Chernobyl accident. I was met by a ghost town: most of the houses had been burned down, others still stood, abandoned and looted. Ohers seemed to expect their owners’ momentary return, with coats still on their hooks and dishes still on the table. Life and activity are eerily confined to the cemetery, where even today people return to bury their dead alongside relatives.

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