Ukraine, Chernobyl and the current political situation
Safety First - Reasons Not To Go
As you can imagine, I've been pretty religiously following events in Ukraine. The instability had already started when booked the trip, but things, after initially getting better, seem to be slipping into the worst again. In the east, tensions are high. Pro-Russian supporters are currently holding elections deemed illegal by the rest of the world and fatalities on both sides. Almost all of the east is in a turbulent situation, with sections staying loyal to each side and fighting seemingly regular. Clearly, this is a serious situation and not one where they want tourist bumbling around.
Staying Safe - Why We Should Go
The Ukraine is massive. 233,030 square miles to be precise, compared to the UK's pokey 94,060 square miles. There's the best part of 300 miles between Kyiv and Kharkiv, the closest of the occupied cities, and 400 miles between the volatile Sloviansk - which is the length of England - and the violence outside of the east has been very few and far between since the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych.
Now, while this doesn't mean is it 100% safe (as if anywhere is these days!), the relative risk is a lot lower in Kyiv than what is being reported in the east by the media. Even our government says Kyiv is calmer now:
The situation in Kyiv and western cities has calmed considerably following months of violent protest during which nearly 100 people were killed, though occasional non-violent public demonstrations continue in and around Independence Square, St Michael’s Square and outside the Verkhovna Rada (parliament building). Elsewhere in Kyiv, life has largely returned to normal.
Why Chernobyl is Calling This Year
With your logical trousers on, delaying the trip till the unrest is over seems the correct thing to do. But the situation isn't as clear cut as that.
The Nuclear Power Plant's New House
Next year will see the new Safe Confinement Building sealing the ruined nuclear plant for, hopefully, tens of years. It seems like an opportunity missed not to be able to see the site when we go. Unfortunately for us, they have already deconstructed parts of the original housing so I'm keen to see it before they remove more!
Who Says It Will Calm Down?
Take Egypt and Libya as examples. Years after the initial unrest the countries are still unstable. Yes, the situation in Ukraine is different, but there is not guarantee that next year everything will be normal.
Then there a few small benefits to going now which are obvious, but at the same time unpleasant to openly say as what advantages us, is heavily disadvantaging the millions who live in the Ukraine. Such things include currency conversion rates and quieter tourist spots (yes, even in the Zone of Alienation). Although this wasn't a factor in us booking, these things are still there.
So, when all was taken into account - barring any unfortunate events within this week - we have decided to go.