Secret Chernobyl through the eyes of stalkers

The explosion of the 4th power unit at the Chernobyl nuclear power station took place on the 26th of April, 1986. It was accompanied by the release of enormous volumes of radioactive material. This was the first such large-scale man-made disaster in the world. Its consequences are still afflicting.

Over 100 thousand people of the local population were evacuated from Pripyat, Chernobyl and many other settlements. During the evacuation,the majority of people took only some documents with them, in the unfulfilled hope of a speedy return. As a result, an unusual situation has developed when literally in a month, the time has stopped running for 34 years on the territory of the formed Chernobyl exclusion zone.

In recent years, people are increasingly interested in the topic of Chernobyl. A lot of them were impressed by the book of the Strugatsky brothers “Roadside Picnic”. A huge number of people were inspired by the world famous Ukrainian shooter game “S.T.A.L.K.E.R” – a symbol of its era. However, exactly the HBO series “Chernobyl” made a real splash, which collected the highest show ratings in history.

Excursions to Chernobyl

In 2019 alone, mass tourism in Chernobyl broke the mark of 70 thousand legal tourists who wished to plunge into this unusual atmosphere. There have been formed 13 land, 5 water and 3 air routes d for them. Though, many people prefer illegal entry into the exclusion zone over legal and safe routes. They are called stalkers.

Freedom is more important than legality, or why people go to Chernobyl illegally

The official tour to Chernobyl is definitely interesting and exciting. However, it has a large number of limitations:

Naturally, not everyone likes this order. Too boring and safe. Why you have to limit yourself when there is a chance to fully enjoy freedom, even if it is not entirely legal. This is what those who call themselves stalkers are doing.

What do stalkers say about visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone?

There is no fun without risk. Without the opportunity to go where you want – the chance to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a place that was abandoned by people more than 30 years ago. Enter the houses in which Soviet people lived, take a look at the conditions in which their life took place. In addition, breaking the law gives much more vivid emotions and much more adrenaline.

On the one hand, stalkers are unanimous – crossing the barbed wire that protects the Chernobyl exclusion zone from the rest of the world, during the Chernobyl tour or stalker outing, they find themselves in a completely new reality. Reality, where time flows completely differently, smells and landscapes are felt sharper and brighter, and the silence is incredible. It is difficult to find another such place in Ukraine where it would be just as quiet.

Among the experienced stalkers, there are many who consider themselves introverts and penetrate the Chernobyl crash zone to be alone with themselves away from other people. The exclusion zone is a real gold mine for photographers and video creators, where they find amazing locations and objects for filming.

Another reason for entering the forbidden territory is to see what nuclear energy is capable of, and why every effort should be made to prevent a world nuclear war. According to the words of stalker Nikita Golovanov, a person should understand that the atom may not be peaceful at all. Nikita also admits that he completely “does not understand jokes” and the accident at Chernobyl demonstrates atom’s capabilities, as well as how the world will look after the war of the nuclear powers. Although you can understand this during a legal excursion to Pripyat, only freely walking around the ghost town will make you fully imbued with these thoughts.

Chernobyl exclusion zone

What’s more, illegal crossing of the zone border is a chance to touch the history. This idea is especially popular among the generation of the 90s, who didn’t catch the Soviet era, but heard a lot about it. Thus, the stalker Andrey Kot says that in the Chernobyl zone you may find the monuments to the greatness and strength of a country that hasn’t been on the world map for more than 30 years, but its legacy remains. For example, a unique military facility – the Duga air defense radar station, the Chernobyl-2 facility 140 m high. The imagination is striking at least the fact that the entire energy of the whole power unit was used to supply one radar station.

By the way, stalking for representatives of its generation is more than a hobby. Rather a way of life. When you become a stalker, it’s forever. And excursions to Chernobyl led by a guide are definitely not for them.

What do psychologists say about stalkers?

According to the experts, one of the reasons why the movement of stalkers arose at all is the desire to experience life as it is. Breathe deeply, live a much more fulfilling life than it is possible than a gray everyday one. Although it is dangerous, as there are still many contaminated places in the zone that are hazardous. For example, the basement of the medical unit, where the clothes of the first fire responders are kept.

Moreover, people living a boring and routine life often become stalkers. By breaking the law and entering the zone for the first time, they receive such a dose of emotions and pure adrenaline that they can no longer imagine their life without them. They just get hooked on adventures. Or another option – people are drawn to the site of one of the largest man-made disasters because of the desire to become involved in history, in large-scale events that are heard by all mankind.

However, the most interesting and original explanation of stalker motives is still the following: “When you look at the site of the disaster and estimate the scale of all the consequences, you understand that your life, in general, is not so lousy. And the problems are not so insoluble. And you really start to appreciate what you have”.

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