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EXERCISES IN PRIPYAT: what actually happened?

The following post is written by Lala Tarapakina, Adviser to the Minister for the Development of the Exclusion Zone.

Official comments from various departments usually look like curses, and it is necessary to translate from the bureaucratic language to the human language what is meant to be a dry, explanatory fact.

Therefore, I want to leave here my comment on the exercises in Pripyat: for tens of thousands of residents of the city who are now in pain. I’m with them and I’m in pain too.

So, on February 4, units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine conducted tactical and special exercises in Pripyat, strongly reminiscent of an act of vandalism.

Everyone was there: the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard and the National Police, the SES, ambassadors of foreign powers, representatives of partner countries and a lot of media and press – both Ukrainian and international.

We could not influence the decision to hold exercises in Pripyat, and by “we” I mean the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the State Agency for Exclusion Zone Management.

Our task was to ensure that the exercises will be without consequences for the City of Pripyat and to calm people down.

Lots of calls and approvals, and here we come with a press release.

The key promise was made in the title of the press release, it sounded like “DO NOT WORRY”.

The exercises will be held as correctly and tactfully as possible for Pripyat.

The promises were not fulfilled.

Yes, we all understand.

WE UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONDUCT EXERCISES.

WE UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT NOW.

We understand why exercises need to be conducted in an urban setting.

We respect the work of the security forces.

But our team spent the whole last year SAVING PRIPYAT.

We did everything possible so that every building in Pripyat, every piece of mosaic, every story – lived on, turning Chernobyl into an international magnet, a place of memory and hope.

And this is our job.

Now Pripyat stands with shot and broken windows, with the consequences of the fire in the Service Centre Jubilee, which engulfed three floors.

Probably, the fire was an exciting spectacle and the press had something to broadcast, but now we receive dozens of letters from leading international publications, with plus or minus the same message in them: “We were shocked that bullets were fired at the houses of Pripyat today and we consider Pripyat a place of remembrance. We would like to receive comments from the people of Pripyat so that their pain could be heard.”

Of course, we will find something to answer to the international press.

But what to say to people who lost their homeland in 1986 and experienced something very similar again yesterday?

Therefore, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, we look forward to your plans to eliminate the consequences of the exercises of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

In the coming days, we will conduct an internal audit of the destruction.

I apologize to all the people of Pripyat for everything that happened yesterday.

It was the city’s 52nd birthday.

I write this text about all night, by morning I have removed all the obscene language, but I hope it is read between the lines.

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