Upfront with Refilwe Moloto

Chernobyl: We lived through its consequences


Guest: Dr Milka Ivanova | Senior Lecturer at Centre for Tourism and Hospitality at
Leeds Beckett University.

Milka Ivanova was living in the small mountain town of Razlog in the People’s Republic
of Bulgaria, about 1500 km away from where the Chernobyl disaster happened. She was just five years old.

Bulgaria and Romania were heavily contaminated by radioactive material from the
explosion that blew the lid off reactor No. 4 at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power
Plant – more commonly known as Chernobyl – in the town of Pripyat, at the time in the
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

While her generation would soon be dubbed “the Chernobyl children”, the communist
authorities kept Bulgarians and Romanians in the dark about the magnitude and
implications of the explosion. It wasn’t until the Iron Curtain lifted that they would learn
the truth. Bulgaria, May Day 1986 – Milka

As a Bulgarian, I don’t often think about Chernobyl, even though I study communist
heritage tourism. Remembering the events of spring 1986 and my government’s
mishandling of the crisis still makes me angry, but I try to maintain some emotional
separation from my research. When the HBO miniseries Chernobyl aired, I expected the
buzz it generated would renew public interest in visiting Chernobyl, and interest in the
communist past in general. What I did not expect was to relive my recollection of the
days after the disaster.

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