Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree on Wednesday lifting a number of previous bans on visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone around the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster and creating a "green corridor" for tourists.
"We should show Chernobyl to the world: scientists, environmental specialists, historians and tourists. <...> Today I signed a decree, which will launch the process of turning the exclusion zone into one of new Ukraine’s growth points. First of all, we will create a "green corridor" for tourists and remove preconditions for corruption," Zelensky said, stressing that "there would be no bans."
According to Zelensky, now Chernobyl, which has surprisingly become a popular tourist destination, is a major a source of corruption. "Unfortunately, the exclusion zone has so far remained a symbol of corruption: security forces collect bribes from tourists, illegally ship metal and take advantage of natural resources. We will soon put an end to this," TASS quoted him as saying.
Zelensky vowed that Chernobyl would soon become a scientific and tourist site, which is poised to be "a symbol of new Ukraine’s freedom — without corruption and notorious bans, but with investments and a future."
The disaster at the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant occurred in the small hours of April 26, 1986, contaminating more than 200,000 square kilometers of land, first and foremost, in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
Around 115,000 people were evacuated from the 30-kilometer affected zone.
The subsequent clean-up operation involved more than 600,000 people, about ten percent of whom died, and 165,000 got disabled.
Thanks to the dedicated work of the disaster’s response team from all over the Soviet Union, a concrete structure covering the nuclear reactor No. 4 was installed - known as the Shelter Object - in November 1986.
In November 2016, an international consortium installed a new arch-shaped confinement.