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intro“You may be in the zone, but you may not live here”.
S.Mirniy. Alive strength. Liquidator`s library

8th of May, 2011. Somewhere in Kiev. The day after Cyberfront festival. Early morning. Two men with semi-closed eyes trying to catch a taxi. The sun is shining. We feel good, we feel right… So the history about visiting Chernobyl zone has begun.

Me, Alexander, and Eskil (Covenant) were sitting in a bus which was moving to Chernobyl, the place of the most powerful and dreadful technogenic accident in the world history. Only two hours long drive and we arrived to the place of our destination. Next five hours became one of the most specific and remembered in my life. Sure it`s difficult to translate emotions and feeling from that by text or photo, but I`ll try to do what I can.
Eskil: Ok, and I’ll add some comments from myself.


First place visited by our group (about 25 members) was the Monument to firemen left to the place of explosion in 4th reactor of atom electro station 26th of April, 1986. All these people died in several weeks from radiation sickness. Then we continued our ride seeing depressing picture of dead area outside our bus. River called Pripyat, six blocks of Chernobyl electro station, lost machines… life has gone from that, has gone forever. Being in Chernobyl you begin feeling music of KRAFTWERK, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY or COEVNANT by another side... “If this was a shelter I would endure in a world with faceless strangers…”
Eskil: You reminded our first full format album called ‘Dreams of a Cryotank’ we released in 1994. As for me, aesthetic of that album is close to Chernobyl theme and to history of atom catastrophes as a whole. It’s dark, it’s cold, and it’s un-human.


But let’s return to our adventure. Some minutes later we stopped in the town Pripyat where about 50 thousands of people were living before the accident. All of them were urgently evacuated without returning possibility. In Pripyat we visited several places including building of local hotel, school, swimming pool, park of attractions. Sensation as though you have got to a dream: dead walls, empty rooms, anybody around. Hardly probable it`s possible to find something similar in the world. From time to time we used Geiger counter with help of our guide…
Eskil: Yes, there was one problem with that man. He spoke mainly in Russian, so I asked him to translate some phrases into English sometimes. Fortunately, we all - citizens of the world - can always use Wikipedia before and after some trips. So getting proper information is not a big problem today.
In fact, being in Chernobyl now is no more dangerous than to make an inter-Atlantic flight, for example. You just need to remember some basic rules: to wear clothes covering all your body, not to eat local food / drink local water, be careful about wild animals and not to bring “souvenirs” from zone with you. And God saves you!


After the first part of our excursion, we have got to a dining room. Minutes before that we successfully passed radiation control and washed our hands with cold water: that are the rules of safety and that are not the rules I like to break up. What about dinner. The dishes were perfect. This is a kind of paradox, but facts are facts. Known, that in 1986 all liquidators had received very qualitative food for faster regeneration of their organisms. It’s fun, but I haven't had time to finish my dinner because a lot of my time has left for asking Eskil about some things in music, music of COVENANT, nature in Sweden… But Eskil was waiting for me patiently, and I`d like to thank him distantly again for doing this and being the great comrade during that trip.
Eskil: It wasn`t difficult. You`re welcome!


After the dinning time, our bus moved to the most fundamental and horror place in all Chernobyl area - 4th reactor of electro station which blew up early morning 26 of April 1986. It`s difficult to find suitable words to comment this. It`s too private. It links you to our history, not fun and human. This is the story of fight, “death and rebirth”, power of those people who saved the world from total catastrophe.
Eskil: I see here you used lyrics from our modern ruin intro. Yes, many people lost their lives, health or home `cause of the tragedy, but they found new impulse and hope in the same time. That`s the truth and I think the association of yours is correct.


Just before the end of excursion we all visited lost kindergarten. To see broken toys, charred books, turned children's beds wasn`t easy. Maybe that moment I understood that visiting Chernobyl don`t hurt humans body but make mind not thinking about light and love in the same time. Hopefully, our time has been finishing and for me it was good. I fell in love in that place and I dreamt to leave it as fast as possible. Dual human nature as it is. Two hours later we returned to Kiev. The weather was still fine and our small special troops of two Swedish and Russian fighters decided to force the capital of Ukraine last time before leaving country next morning. We were going to the hotel talking about food, Volvo cars, “Wir sind die Nacht” film and other thing. I also tried to remind words from wonderful COVENANT’s track called ‘Never seemes to end’ and Eskil has silently sung a couple of couplets.
Eskil: I like this track. It`s quiet, slow, something like a pause before a following jump into further life. Like a car on parking while its owner has a break in café.


As I think today, whatever happened, it never seems to end. Let it be.
Eskil: Let it be. For sure!

Pics by Alexander Loukyanov except picture 10 by Eskil Simonsson

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