Chornobyl: Hunting, smuggling, and stalkerism 31 years after the nuclear fallout (Part 2)

Author : Olena Holubyeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

Find out the exclusive facts and photos from the exclusion zone
11:11, 26 April 2017

Read the original text at To read the first part of an article click here.

April 26 is the anniversary of one of the most terrible technogenic disasters in the history of mankind - the Chornobyl accident. The station was named after the city, 15 km from which it was built. But Chornobyl, whose name has now become synonymous with trouble, rarely is a topic of media reports. continues to travel through the cities and towns of Ukraine, and this time we went to the territory of the 30-kilometer exclusion zone to see the life of the city 31 years after the disaster.

Apparently, extreme youth movement - stalkerism - is associated with the seeming security of the exclusion zone. According to the police, unauthorized entry into the exclusion zone is the most common offense here. Stalkers are caught constantly. For the whole of 2015, the Department of the Chornobyl NPP Police detained 88 stalkers. In 2016, there were 194 people. And for few months of this year - already 24. And these are only those who were really caught. In the network, dozens of invitations to groups that organize illegal walks in the exclusion zone, without a pass and official escorts.

Related: New life of exclusion zone: Chernobyl Biosphere Reserve

According to the police, among the stalkers detained in 2015, there are 9 citizens of the Republic of Belarus, 7 - Poland, 3 - Czech Republic, 2 - Spain, 1 - Russia. In 2016, 2 from Belarus, 4 from the Czech Republic, 3 from Poland, 1 from the Russian Federation, 1 from the United Kingdom. For 2 months of the current year, the police detained two stalkers from Belarus.

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From the point of view of the law, the penalty for walking in the zone is symbolic: in relation to violators, an administrative protocol is made for violation of Art. 46-1 "Violation of the requirements of the radiation safety regime in the territory of radioactive contamination" of the Administrative Code. The sanction of the article provides for punishment in the form of a fine of 20 to 30 non-taxable minimum incomes of citizens, that is 340-510 UAH, which is less than the price of a tour in a travel agency.

Related: Who blew up Chornobyl? A documentary

Officially, the police acknowledge that stalkers penetrate the zone through a "hole in the wire fence." The law enforcers, who managed to communicate informally in the zone, told that there are a lot of such holes, and only a part of the exclusion zone is fenced with a barbed wire fence. The section of the border with Belarus, passing through the exclusion zone with a length of 154.5 km, is completely "naked". It has no barbed wire, no border posts. Measures for demarcation and engineering development here were not conducted at all. The border posts are located only along the rear lines of the exclusion zone, to which the Ivankivsky and Polisky districts adjoin. That is, at a distance of 50-70 km from the state border.

Unofficially, local security officials say that this situation creates a risk for smuggling, which can be carried by the same employees of the zone. There is also a threat of the possibility of penetration of the CRG  from the territory of Belarus. 18 km are between the border and the ChNPP. From Belorussia to the river Prypyat, it is also possible to freely access by means of floating crafts that "CRG can be used to penetrate deep into Ukraine, in particular to the dam of the Kyiv Reservoir, which is the object of critical infrastructure."

Related: Lviv mayor suggested creating reserve landfill in Chornobyl area

Unofficially, the law enforcers say that some stalkers are far from all romance. In addition to artifacts, metal is being dragged from the zone. Near “Dytyatky” checkpoint, people collected 200-300 kg of scrap metal. No one even paid attention.

Officially, using with the permissive documents, metal is taken by the private companies under contracts with the administration. Almost all the objects of the exclusion zone are officially on the balance of the state. They assure that official organizations clean it from radiation contamination. Unofficially they say that the administration of the zone even considered the possibility of sending a favorite object of tourists "Chernobyl-2", better known as the radar "Duga", located not far from Ilyintsy village. This is part of the air defense system, which was built during the Soviet era.

National Police said that for all the time only one fact of an attempt to export out of the exclusion zone 14 decks of oak by car ZIL-130 was registered in 2015. Criminal proceedings on this fact were sent to the court on a reconciliation agreement. In 2016-2017, such violations were not recorded.

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To be honest, the idea of paid fishing or luxurious hunting in the zone from Chernobyl looks somehow too wild. But no matter how it looks, they say that the yard of the local police is literally full of trophies seized from poachers: motor boats of all kinds. Unofficially, local law enforcers say that in the exclusion zone there are about 80 boats. They were not registered in the State Navy Agency. Police and border guards do not have information about their owners. The output of boats on water is not recorded by anyone.

Related: New arch to be installed above Chornobyl Plant’s Shelter

Related: Lviv mayor suggested creating reserve landfill in Chornobyl area

The press service of the National Police responded to our request that in 2015 police recorded 9 cases of poaching on the water (sentences for two criminal violations were made in the form of a fine of 1.7 thousand UAH, one of them - restriction of freedom for up to a year). In 2016, there were 2 such criminal violations (in production). This year, such cases have not yet been recorded. The poachers seized three boats, 60 fishing nets, 5 spinning, 1 electric fishing rod, 2 metal drills, the press service of the National Police said.

Related: Parliament granted ‘Chornobyl benefits’ to those who suffered from other nuclear disasters

Catching fish and hunting in the zone is officially prohibited, so that any person on a boat with a fishing rod in this area is already a poacher. Only self-settlers are allowed fishing.

The results of the research show that the ban has grounds - fishing and hunting in the zone are far from safe. For example, cesium-137 in fish caught in Prypyat, on average is 28 times higher than the permissible norm, and strontium - 11 times. In the meat of wild boar, excess of cesium-137 is observed 25 times, goats - 63 times, hare - 10 times.

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