I don’t know if it’s because 9 years old is a typical age to start becoming aware of the world beyond one’s own city, or whether it’s because so much happened that year, but I remember very little of current events before 1985-86, and so much of what happened that year, when I was in the fourth grade. I remember horrifying my teacher, Mrs. Kupiec, with all the tasteless jokes I had overheard about the events of that year: Gorbachev’s rise to power, the US bombing of Libya, the space shuttle Challenger explosion, and Chernobyl.

The 20th anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is tomorrow. Many CIS-related blogs are posting links and stories about Chernobyl, and ordinarily I wouldn’t be too interested in duplicating the efforts of others, but as an environmentalist, a CIS-ophile, and a kid whose global consciousness really emerged that year, Chernobyl has been a source of special fascination for me, so I don’t feel like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon.

By far the most powerful site I’ve come across is this one:
1986-2006
Watch the trailer, it’s incredibly haunting.

The best site for information and lots of pictures:
http://pripyat.com/en/

A moving introduction and links to the poetry of Lyubov Sirota, a Chernobyl victim:
A Voice from Dead Pripyat

A well-known hoax which nonetheless has some good photos and commentary. As I understand from reading critical websites, the hoax is that the woman didn’t actually ride her mortorcycle through the zone, but took a guided tour*:
Ghost Town
So like, don’t contribute to her PayPal account or anything, but it’s nonetheless some good reading.

There are lots more, of course, and every major news outlet is saying something about the anniversary, so there’s no shortage of interesting reading. Furthermore, it’s important reading. Chernobyl isn’t just an event of recent history, but an environmental catastrophe which continues to affect those who were and are nearby, which is most of Ukraine and Belarus.

*which I really, really want to do someday

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