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“One question: you can eat apple from Chernobyl? Yes, of course. Eat, you can. But your shit, need bury in ground three meter.” <br />
— Igor Chizhebskiy, ornithologist, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone<br />
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Maria and Mikhail Urupa offer visitors apples from the tree behind their house. The Urupas are among 14 residents remaining in Parishev village, 10 miles downstream from the Chernobyl plant. Maria was born here and can’t imagine living anywhere else. They survive on subsistence farming and small government pensions. “If I was to leave this place, I’d die already,” Maria says.<br />
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“Here, we’re all Chernobylites. We don’t scare one another,” says Nadezhda Burakova, another samosel in an interview by Svetlana Alexeivich. “If someone gives you an apple or a cucumber from their garden, you take it and eat it, you don’t hide it shamefully in your purse, and then throw it out… Anywhere else, we’re foreign, we’re lepers.”<br />
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“I am like an apple that is beautiful on the outside,” comments radiobiologist Natalya Manzurova, “but you find inside is all rotten and full of worms.” <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:  7/2009    File#:  Canon 5D digital camera frame 73676<br />
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“One question: you can eat apple from Chernobyl? Yes, of course. Eat, you can. But your shit, need bury in ground three meter.”
— Igor Chizhebskiy, ornithologist, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Maria and Mikhail Urupa offer visitors apples from the tree behind their house. The Urupas are among 14 residents remaining in Parishev village, 10 miles downstream from the Chernobyl plant. Maria was born here and can’t imagine living anywhere else. They survive...
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