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Old 03-16-2011, 07:20 AM   #1
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Post Filatova, Elena: Ghost town - A Chernobyl journal, v1.1, 16 Mar 2011

"Filatova took a large number of photographs of Chernobyl-area buildings, cottages, rusting never-to-be-used Prypiat carnival equipment, the interiors of disused schools and homes, fire, petrol, police and government stations, and of people who had since returned to the area. The photos are arranged in the form of a story presented as an account of a trip by a biker who travelled alone in the radiation zone." - Wikipedia

From elenafilatova.com:

My interest in Chernobyl began in 1992, when I first traveled through Belorussian villages north of the reactor. I was young and I was impressed. What struck me most was some of the dark beauty of the place; the beauty that others could not see...

Here are two Chernobyl tales with pictures. "Ghost Town" was written in 2003-2004, "Land of the Wolves" in 2005. "Ghost Town" was under attack from the very day I put it online. Many do not appreciate my efforts. Chernobyl is a disaster we don't want to remember; it is human made and it never ends...

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Old 03-16-2011, 11:48 AM   #2
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Please spell "Belarus" and "Belarusian" correctly (it's really not that hard to do. Just as many of us find the spelling "Amerika" offensive, the misspelling of Belarusian often has a political purpose. Plus these are the official spellings since 1991. thank you!)
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:22 PM   #3
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This is a direct quote from Elena Filatova's article so there's no question of spelling it "correctly". "Belorussia", or in fact "White Russia" (Russia Alba) in many languages, is still very common. Deal with it.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:11 PM   #4
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How very topical.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:34 PM   #5
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There is a *minor* controversy in connection with Ms. Filatova concerning whether it was a solo ride, as she originally reported, through the Cernobyl area or an escorted group ride. Either way, the pictures and stories are amazing.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:24 PM   #6
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It would appear that the text for this series of photos is mostly written in English as a Second Language; as such there are many errors (for instance, monthly salary calculated in "rubbles" - an intended Freudian slip, or does the author mean "rubles"?). While there are quite a few other sources of similar info online, with descriptions all similar, unfortunately none are public-domain:

A personal website at http://sv-timemachine.net/2009/04/chernobyl-part-i/ offers a two-part description of Chernobyl village and of Pripyat, based on a tour offered by Rimma Kiselitsa (1957-2006) - an employee of the single state agency, Chernobyl InterInform (chernobyl.info), which holds an official monopoly on all tours within the zone. This tourism initiative was described in 2005 by the NY Times as "what may be the strangest vacation excursion available in the former Soviet space: the packaged tour of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, scene of the worst civilian disaster of the nuclear age"

Sadly, as of slightly before the 20th anniversary of the disaster, Rimma is no longer with us; evidently her vocation was a dangerous one. Her 2006 obituary is here: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl...20disaster.htm. May she rest in peace.

As access to this one same official government Lada tour of the exclusion zone is profitably rebranded/resold through various Kiev tourist agencies at various markups, the official stance has been that a lone motorcyclist could not possibly have been permitted to pass the control points which surround Chernobyl, despite the large number of personnel engaged either in futile cleanup attempts or operation of other reactors on the same doomed site.

The last of the four Chernobyl reactors finally was shut down for good in 2000, largely due to international pressure.

There are a pair of widely-reposted messages online voiciferously disputing Elena Filatova's description of Chernobyl and the exclusion zone.

One cites a "Tony Brown (pulse .. at .. web-axis.net)" who had taken Rimma's official tour and reports her claim that "one of the pictures on her original site was inside a kindergarden. It's a picture of a baby's crib, with a photo of Lenin, a child's gas mask, and some toys. These photos were 'staged' by Elena's husband. He found the photo of Lenin elsewhere, put it in the cott and placed a gas mask alongside then took a photo of it. This annoyed Rimma immensely."

Oddly, the original poster neglects to mention the real situation as far worse than depicted: the tiny gas masks did indeed exist, carefully stored in a school's basement for Cold War use in the event of a Western nuclear attack which never came. As officials were attempting to hide the scale of the Chernobyl disaster, they remained there untouched until long after the site had been evacuated, only to be eventually found and disturbed by would-be looters looking for recyclable metals. Civilians had no knowledge of the true scale of the disaster and (as this Cold War stash quietly remained untouched until far after all of the people were gone) no real defence.

The other cites a "Mary Mycio, J.D. Legal Program Director, IREX U-Media" posting on e-Poshta that the motorcycle story was an invention; conveniently it turns out that this author was (for profit) writing a rival book about Chornobyl (ISBN: 978-0309094306) for the US market.

Certainly, if everyone from looters to tourists to nuclear workers to a few elderly residents of surrounding communities were able to enter the devastated area, it's difficult to know what opportunity Elena could have had to bring a motorcycle with her on any of her trips to Chernobyl. The only visual cue is to note which pictures depict Elena herself on the site (someone else must have been present to take those, so these may be the official Lada tour) versus which locations are depicted with the motorbike itself present and visible.

From other online sources, the picture painted is no more favourable than that described in Elena's "Ghost Town" photo series. A photo set at http://lplaces.com/en/reports mentions a pair of additional reactors under construction at the Chernobyl site, silently abandoned after the 1986 reactor fire and meltdown. Additional photos on http://operatorchan.org/wallz/res/9181-100.html depict more images of abandonment and of a ghost town, as do the http://pripyat.com/en/photo_gallery images taken twenty years after the reactor meltdown.

Nonetheless, for all the claims that the photos of the tiny gas masks in the schoolhouse were "sensationalism", the reality that these quietly sat unused while civilians were kept in the dark about a real and immediate danger is worse.

Last edited by carlb; 03-17-2011 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:22 AM   #7
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you have shared resourceful info thank you carlb
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:38 PM   #8
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Thanks! I had read her book from her website before - very interesting!
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