An opinion article titled “In Belarus, Covid-19 is a modern-day Chernobyl” was published on CNN website. The auothor of the text looks into the country’s approach in fighting against coronavirus, and comparing it to the Chernobyl tragedy of 1986.
Vitali Shkliarov is an expert in U.S.-Russia relations, an award-winning political strategist, and multinational campaign manager. He has worked on President Obama’s, Bernie Sanders’ and Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential campaigns.
Shkliarov is from Gomel, one of the most affected by the Chernobyl disaster regionsin Belarus, so he easily compared the two crises: 1986 and 2020. The media outlet notes that the views of the author are his own. Below are just some of the excerpts from the text:
“I was just shy of 10 years old on that date. My parents and other adult relatives recalled in later years how, when told about the explosion some days later, the only advice they remember receiving from the government was to wash themselves more often.
Then, as now, there was fear of the unknown – people knew something had happened, but without much information, they didn’t know what else to do. So they carried on. Like we buy masks today, they bought dosimeters, handheld devices used to measure radiation.
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Many women, my mother included, bought her own dosimeter and took it to the grocery store to measure the radioactivity of the food she was buying for her family. But other than that, life carried on as usual. Businesses were open, schools were open.”
Recall that the enterprises in Belarus will continue to work in normal mode despite the current situation with coronavirus COVID-19 in the country. This is the principled position of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
So how is Belarus handling the crisis?
“There are many similarities between the literal fallout of Chernobyl and the figurative fallout of the Covid-19 virus,” Vitali believes. He also highlights the terrifying feature of both the radiation from Chernobyl and coronavirus – its invisibility.
“It would seem like Belarus would be a country uniquely suited to take the lessons of Chernobyl and apply them today. So why is the advice Belarusians are getting the same as before? Have the nation’s leaders learned anything from the lessons of Chernobyl?” he continues.
And answers his own question quoting the president’s contoversial advice on curing coronavirus “with vodka and a trip to the sauna.” He also mentions the fact that Belarus remains the only country in the world whose football league continues to play in front of its fans.
Shkliarov couldn’t help but mention the Chernobyl HBO series which showed how the details of the Chernobyl tragedy were covered up and kept from the Soviet people. However, he finds hope in the show’s resonance with Belarusian youth.
“They watched the series, and they’re watching how their leadership is responding to this most recent crisis. (…) Friends my age and younger are far more likely to stay home and practice social distancing than my parents.”
The full text of the original article can be found here.