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Technogenic catastrophe that caused political changes in Belarus

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which changed not only the environmental situation in Belarus and Ukraine, but also caused political changes and contributed to the collapse of the USSR. It is a little known historical fact that among the organizers of the protests of the late 80s in the BSSR were not only representatives of the Narodny Front, but also trade unions.

Technogenic catastrophe that caused political changes in Belarus
Gomel residents express dissatisfaction with the party and government policies in Moscow. Aliaksandr Bukhvostau's archive (Courtesy Photo)

Few people know that the formation of new trade unions also took place on the topic of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. The reason for those changes was the protests against the criminal silence of the Soviet leadership about the consequences of the tragedy. Meanwhile, in 1990 there was an event that precipitated the discovery of the truth about the real scale of the accident. We are talking about the "Survival March" to Moscow, in which several hundred Gomel residents took part at the initiative of trade union leaders.

On April 26, 1990, on the fourth anniversary of the events at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Gomselmash stopped. Trade unions have organized a strike, demanding the truth about the threat posed by the "peaceful atom".

More than 5,000 people came to the rally in the city center. As a result, the general director Stanislau Drozd issued a decree on the transfer of control to the strike led by Aliaksandr Bukhvostau. A number of other enterprises also supported the action.

The next day, the first and second secretaries of the Central Committee of the CPB Efrem Sokolov and Alexei Kamai arrived in Gomel. Thousands of indignant workers were already waiting for them. The dialogue failed: the party members had nothing to say to the people, they nodded at the Kremlin - they say that all decisions are made there.

In the following months, protest activity did not stop, and at one of the rallies it was decided to prepare a march on Moscow. His organization was entrusted to Aliaksandr Bukhvostau.

Aliaksandr Bukhvostau's archive (Courtesy Photo)

After that, a dozen and a half buses decorated with slogans "Down with the CPSU," "CPSU to Chernobyl" and others set off for Russia. More than 300 protesters took seats on the buses.

Aliaksandr Bukhvostau's archive (Courtesy Photo)

The protesters were received in Moscow by Nikolai Ryzhkov, chairman of the Council of Ministers, who apologized that the scientists themselves do not really understand what to do and that is why there is no state program for eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

- The first secretary of the CPB Efrem Sokolov was not even allowed to say a word: as soon as he stepped to the podium, the whistles and stomping began," says Aliaksandr Bukhvostau. - He was accused of deliberately understating the scale of the tragedy in front of Moscow, which is a crime in itself. Sokolov stood, listened to what they thought of him, waved and sat down. In all, the meeting lasted three hours; we prepared our demands to Gorbachev, which we handed over to Ryzhkov.

Two weeks later, a government commission, headed by Vitaly Daguzhiyev, Deputy Prime Minister for Emergency Situations, arrived in Gomel. They worked there for several weeks and a program of actions was adopted. But the inevitable processes of the USSR collapse loomed ahead, and Belarus was finally left alone with the Chernobyl problems.

Even today, the problems of the accident consequences are not completely solved. A great deal of contaminated arable land has been returned to use, and the subject of the Chernobyl tragedy is being traditionally hushed up by the Lukashenko regime.

A year ago, he stated: "I will not say that we defeated Chernobyl, but we hit it hard. We have coped with the task". It's not clear what he's talking about. Perhaps, the half-life of cesium and strontium isotopes is 30 years, and the problem solves itself with time.

In spite of the fact that Belarus is one of the few countries in the world which suffered from radiation pollution and voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons, the usurper continues to play on this topic. The regime arbitrarily and gradually makes our country a nuclear hostage, for the sake of staying in power. The questionable Astravets nuclear power plant was originally built in Belarus with Russian loans, and now there are intentions to bring nuclear weapons back into the country, making 9 million people hostages of the regime.

Astravets nuclear power plant. Photo:

Chatham House research shows that Belarus still rejects the idea of placing nuclear weapons on its territory. Only 25 percent of those surveyed view the idea positively. But when has the opinion of the people ever stopped speakers?

Because of the ongoing terror in Belarus, it is becoming impossible to hold protests on the anniversary of the disaster. In this connection, Belarusians in exile and diasporas around the world are planning to hold a series of protests against the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. Actions are planned in Lithuania, Poland, Canada, Germany and Latvia. Although this will not affect the dictator's intentions, it will at least express the position of the Belarusian people.

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