Declassified Chernobyl Documents Presented In Kyiv

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25 year after the Chernobyl disaster, a special exhibition in Kiev presents declassified Soviet documents relating to the accident. Our Ukraine correspondents are shocked by the scale of the cover up.

Previously unknown documents from the Soviet era relating to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station are presented in Kyiv.

The State Archive Service has assembled more than one hundred orders and letters by the then authorities, many labeled "secret."

[Svetlana Vlasenko, State Archive Service]:
"The documents help to trace the timeline of the accident and its consequences, and we hope they will also honor the memory of those affected by the disaster."

The exposition begins with photographs of Pripyat - the town built for Chernobyl workers.

[Svetlana Vlasenko, State Archive Service]:
"It was a vibrant city. There's nothing foreshadowing trouble."

After the accident, the city became a ghost town... but when the explosion first occurred, it took three days for any media reports to come out.

A brief message, approved at the highest level, was: "An accident happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, one of the reactors is damaged. Measures have been taken. Victims are assisting a government commission to investigate."

Not a word about the extent of the accident, not a word about the threat of radiation.

Completely ignorant to the risk, just a few days after the explosion, children gather for May Day celebrations in Kyiv. Graphs show that on this day radiation levels were the highest.

Of course, like much other data, this information was not available at the time.

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