26 April – Day of the Chernobyl Disaster. 19 years have passed since the explosion on the nuclear power station Why does the Belarusian community pay less attention to the Chernobyl-related problems? The Radio Liberty correspondent is discussing this topic with the imprisoned professor-radiologist Yury Bandazheuski
The Radio Liberty correspondent Alies Dashchynski managed to get in touch with Professor Yury Bandazheuski who is now serving a sentence in a settlement-type correctional facility. The former rector of Homel Medical University was sentenced to 8 years in prison for alleged bribery. However, human rights activists believe that the Professor was first of all punished because his research in the field of radiation medicine had contradicted the official position. How does he explain the lack of interest in the Chernobyl-related problems from?
Yury Bandazheuski speaks: "Apathy in society adversely affects both one's health and one's civil position. Generally, this shows the level of maturity of all society. Like an acid test Chernobyl revealed the true attitudes to what is happening. When in 1990 I came to Homel, I was impressed with the Ukrainian active position on the international arena, how they fought for scientific international projects. And they did get quite a lot of help then. Though we suffered the most, there is still a tendency to keep it silent, which attitude has been encouraged by the government since 1986. The attitude of society to what is happening to it is revealed through Chernobyl. So in all other fields we see the same, that's why I am not surprised: everything that surrounds us and all we are now observing is a result of societal apathy".
Correspondent: "Yury, which do you think should get most attention, what is your greatest Chernobyl-related concern?"
Bandazheuski: "I feel very upset because we are now ignoring a very important period that requires vigorous actions taken to improve the health of the people. One should be working toward this, rather than simply say we are doing something. When all of this is given little attention, when we try to eliminate the high sickness rate by an increased number of clinics – we'll never succeed. Unfortunately, we are losing time for study because to do something it is necessary to understand the reasons and consequences of the sickness rather than regularly declare slogans or launch some campaigns".