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“Chernobyl remains a black hole of information, as the data concerning the spread and consequences of the catastrophe were initially falsified by the Soviet government. Neither the anti-nuclear association… or the nuclear lobby were ever able to establish the complete truth of what happened, or the number of victims, or the health, sanitary and ecological consequences. Nevertheless, you just need to visit any cemetery in the contaminated zone and to read on the graves the ages and dates of death to realize the scope of the catastrophe. These numbers were not manipulated.”<br />
 — Galia Ackerman, journalist, in Chernobyl: Confessions of a Reporter<br />
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On April 26, the anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, Vasily Fedirko stands in the Pirogovichi village graveyard beside his daughter, Oksana, as they pay tribute to his wife’s parents, who died in 2003. Every year around Easter time, Ukrainians return to their native villages to eat a ceremonial meal in the cemetery and remember those who have died. This tradition has become a reunion in Chernobyl-affected areas as former neighbors come together to reminisce. Evacuees from the exclusion zone are allowed back in for one day to visit their abandoned homes and graves.<br />
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This photograph is part the book of Would You Stay?, by Michael Forster Rothbart, published by TED Books in 2013. The photos come from Forster Rothbart’s two long-term documentary photography projects, After Chernobyl and After Fukushima.<br />
© Michael Forster Rothbart 2007-2013.<br />
www.afterchernobyl.com<br />
www.mfrphoto.com • 607-267-4893 • 607-436-2856<br />
34 Spruce St, Oneonta, NY 13820<br />
86 Three Mile Pond Rd, Vassalboro, ME 04989<br />
info@mfrphoto.com<br />
Photo by: Michael Forster Rothbart<br />
Date:  4/2009    File#:  Canon 5D digital camera frame 61409<br />
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“Chernobyl remains a black hole of information, as the data concerning the spread and consequences of the catastrophe were initially falsified by the Soviet government. Neither the anti-nuclear association… or the nuclear lobby were ever able to establish the complete truth of what happened, or the number of victims, or the health, sanitary and ecological consequences. Nevertheless, you just need to visit any cemetery in the contaminated zone and to read on the graves the ages...
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