Out of the 30 third-form pupils who liquidated consequences
of a nuclear catastrophe 17 are already dead


A boy named Ruslan from the village of Muslyumovo holds a small fish caught in the Techa River, the one into which radioactive waste from the Mayak enterprise streamed down. Now the river is the world's most radioactive river and is even registered in the Guinness Record Book. The boy is going to feed his cat with the fish caught in the radioactive river. And this situation has lasted for about 50 years already.

A particular status has been recovered for five people from the village Tatarskaya Karabolka (the Chelyabinsk Region) who participated in the clean-up of the nuclear accident on the territory of the Mayak enterprise. This became possible only thanks to the legal assistance of the World Tatar Congress.

The Mayak enterprise dealing with processing of radioactive waste where the tragic accident occurred in 1957 is situated close to the closed military camp of Ozersk. Sessions at the court of Ozersk lasted for three days, July 19-21 this year; the session hall was crowded. Lawyer Roza Fardiyeva from the World Tatar Congress, who protected the interests of the five citizens whose particular status has been recovered, explains that the people who gathered in the session hall consider themselves young clean-up workers of the nuclear catastrophe in 1957. These people, being pupils in 1957, were involved in dismantling of irradiated buildings, in clearing of rubbish and in autumn they liquidated harvest so that to prevent irradiated vegetables from entering the market.

Unfortunately, the villagers were not aware of the risk they suffered at that themselves. Those who participated in liquidation of the tragic consequences were not informed that the work was dangerous; what is more, the official archives contain no documents proving that people from the village Tatarskaya Karabolka actually participated in liquidation of the catastrophe consequences. There was just an oral command to send pupils from Tatarskaya Karabolka to the village fields after the radioactive catastrophe. According to official documents, only workers of the Mayak enterprise participated in liquidation of the tragic consequences.

Attorney Roza Fardiyeva brought a black-and-white photography made in 1955 after her last visit to the Chelyabinsk Region. This is a photo of the third form of the school from Tatarskaya Karabolka; there are 30 smiling faces on it. The attorney says that 17 people from the photo are already dead, the rest were given the diagnosis of cancer.

It was only in the post-perestroika era that the rights of people from the village Tatarskaya Karabolka were restored. In 1998 the court of Ozersk determined that schoolchildren had been actually engaged in liquidation of the radioactive catastrophe consequences. About 40 people from the Tatar village were given the status of clean-up workers of the radioactive catastrophe. Monthly pensions at the rate of 250 rubles were granted to each of them; the people also received tickets to sanatoria and free medicines. But the villagers had a chance to enjoy the benefits just within two years only. After that, the Chelyabinsk Regional Court overturned the decision taken by the Ozersk court and the people were deprived of the status of liquidators of the radioactive catastrophe.  

The people immediately appealed to court, but the investigation was delayed. Meanwhile, the federal center continued to appropriate pensions and subsidies to those who liquidated the consequences of the radioactive catastrophe. Attorney Roza Fardiyeva says that the money stayed at the regional administration. At that, the sum made up about 30,000 rubles ($1,000) per a person.

Now, when the rights of five people who participated in liquidation of the tragedy consequences are restored, Roza Fardiyeva plans to appeal against the decision of the Chelyabinsk Regional Court that deprived the people of the right for a compensation for their ruined health.

When attorneys of the World Tatar Congress visited the villages of Muslyumovo and Tatarskaya Karabolka they learnt about more problems of the local population. As it turned out they need more medicines and have other everyday problems unsolved.

Alsou Musina