Dismal anniversary: Belarus remembers Chernobyl

The country’s democratic community is about to participate in a traditional “Charnobylski Shlyakh” (Path of Chernobyl) demonstration in Minsk on April 26 to mark the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The Minsk City Executive Committee allowed demonstrators to use flags, signs and banners and assured the organizers that there would be no unfounded arrests.

The action is to start near the Kastrychnik cinema at 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. demonstrators will leave the square in front of the cinema and march along Independence Avenue and Surhanava Street to Peoples’ Friendship Park in Bangalore Square for a final rally which will last between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The demonstration will end a flower-laying ceremony at the so-called Chernobyl chapel in the area of Bangalore Square.

Abandoning the nuclear power plant project in Astravets (Hrodna region)is the main demand of the participants. The decision to build the nuclear plant was made in an undemocratic fashion, the organisers say, adding that preparatory work at the construction site was being done hastily and without regard for regulations.

Demonstrators will also call on the government to restore benefits and privileges for people affected by the accident, inform the public fully about its consequences, properly monitor radiation levels in Chernobyl-hit areas, and keep track of the concentration of radionuclides in consumer goods.

Meanwhile, about 40,000 hectares (some 100,000 acres) of land contaminated in Belarus following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident can be brought back into agricultural use. The fields that can be brought back are mostly those located along riverbeds and therefore they would be preferably used for cattle grazing rather than crop production.

Belsat, following BelaPAN