Chernobyl (as transliterated from the _ru. Чернобыль, IPA-ru|tɕɪˈrnobɨlʲ), or Chornobyl (as transliterated from _uk. Чорнобиль, IPA2|tʃɔrˈnɔbɪlʲ), was a city in northern Ukraine, in the Kyiv Oblast (province) near the border with Belarus.

The city was evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which is located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) north-northwest. The power plant was named after the city, and located within Chornobyl Raion (district), but the city was not the residence of the power plant workers. Together with the power plant construction, Pripyat, a city, which was larger and closer to the power plant, was built to be home for the power plant workers.

Though the city is today mostly uninhabited, a small number of inhabitants reside in houses marked with signs stating that the "Owner of this house lives here". Workers on watch and administrative personnel of the Zone of Alienation are stationed in the city on a long term basis. Prior to its evacuation, the city was inhabited by about 15,000 residents.

Name origin

The city name comes from a combination of "chornyi" (чoрний, "black") and "byllia" (билля, "grass blades" or "stalks"); hence it literally means "black grass" or "black stalks". It may be named after the Ukrainian word for the plant mugwort.Norman Davies, "", Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198201710] The reason for this name is not known. Different explanations have appeared after the 1986 nuclear incident. In particular, there were attempts to link the accident to prophecies in the Book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament. For these, see Chernobyl in the popular consciousness.


Chernobyl first appeared in a charter of 1193 described as a hunting-lodge of knyaz Rostislavich [ [ Chernobyl ancient history and maps] .] . It was a crown village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century. The village was granted as a fiefdom to Filon Kmita, a captain of the royal cavalry, in 1566. The province containing Chornobyl was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland in 1569, and then annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793.Davies, Norman (1995) "Chernobyl", [ "The Sarmatian Review, vol. 15", No. 1] .] Prior to the 20th century Chornobyl was inhabited by Ukrainian and some Polish peasants, and a relatively large number of Jews.

Chernobyl had a rich religious history. The Jews were brought by Filon Kmita during the Polish campaign of colonization. The traditionally Christian Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian peasantry of the district was largely forced by Poland to convert to the Greek Catholic Uniate religion after 1596, and returned to Eastern Orthodox only after Ukraine was annexed by Muscovy.

The Dominican church and monastery were founded in 1626 by Lukasz Sapieha, at the height of the Counter-reformation. There was a group of Old Catholics, which opposed the decrees of the Council of Trent. The Dominican monastery was sequestrated in 1832, and the church of the Old Catholics was disbanded in 1852.

In the second half of 18th century, Chornobyl became one of the major centers of Hasidic Judaism. The Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty had been founded by Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky. The Jewish population suffered greatly from pogroms in October 1905 and in March–April 1919, when many Jews were killed and others were robbed, at the instigation of the Russian nationalist Black Hundreds. In 1920, the Twersky dynasty left Chornobyl, and it ceased to exist as a Hasidic center.

Since the 1880s, Chornobyl has seen many changes of fortune. In 1898 Chornobyl had a population of 10,800, including 7,200 Jews. In World War I the village was occupied and in the ensuing Civil War was fought over by Bolsheviks and Ukrainians. In the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, it was taken first by the Polish Army and then by cavalry of the Red Army. From 1921, it was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.

During the period 1929–33 Chornobyl suffered greatly from mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed. The Polish community of Chornobyl was deported to Kazakhstan in 1936 during the Frontier Clearances. The Jewish community was killed during the German occupation of 1941–44. Twenty years later, the area was chosen as the site of the first nuclear power station on Ukrainian soil.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chernobyl remained part of Ukraine, now an independent nation.

Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster

On April 26 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded at 01:23 AM local time. It took three days before all permanent residents of Chernobyl and the Zone of alienation were evacuated due to unsafe levels of radioactivity.

Although neighbouring Pripyat remains unmaintained, Chernobyl has been renovated and is now home to more than 500 residents. Those include nuclear scientists, maintenance officials for the Chernobyl power plant, liquidation officials, doctors, physicists, and most of all, radiation physicists. Visitors to the Zone of Alienation can stay at a local lodge in the Chernobyl suburbs.

In 2003, the United Nations Development Programme launched a project called the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Program (CRDP) for the recovery of the affected areas. [ [ CRDP: Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (United Nations Development Program)] ] The program launched its activities based on the Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident report recommendations and was initiated in February 2002. The main goal of the CRDP’s activities is supporting the Government of Ukraine to mitigate long-term social, economic and ecological consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, among others. CRDP works in the four most Chernobyl-affected areas in Ukraine: Kyivska, Zhytomyrska, Chernihivska and Rivnenska.

ee also

*List of Chernobyl-related articles
* [ [Wolves Eat Dogs] by [ [Martin Cruz Smith] - Fictional thriller mostly set in the Chernnobyl area


External links

* [ History of Chernobyl Area]
* [ A motorbike journey through Chernobyl] Photo album showing the empty city, the reactor and its surroundings.
* [ Natal'ya Monastyrnaya « "ZONE - virtual walk with comments (rus)]
* [ Chornobyl Disaster - Chronicle of Severe Days] Amazing footage of the Chornobyl rescue work from the last film of Ukrainian film-maker Volodymyr Shevchenko, who died in the hospital after spending so much time near the reactor.
* [ Lost City of Chernobyl] Photoblog of the abandoned city
* [ Chornobyl: the unreadable sign] Twenty years after Chornobyl, Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich talks to Sonja Zekri about the new face of evil and the lessons to be learned from the reactor catastrophe.
* [,,1760930,00.html Hell on Earth] The Guardian, April 26, 2006
* [ Pripyat and Chornobyl Photo Documentary]
* [ Chornobyl Tour]
* [ Chernobyl - 20 Years of an Eco-Catastrophe] J. Paull, 2006, Teachers Toolkit, #2, pp.28-29.

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