|An elderly woman and her dogs are seen in Karpilivka village, on the border of the forbidden zone|
They cross illegally into the Exclusion Zone through holes in a barbed-wire fence, searching for scrap metal and scavenging the undisturbed forests for mushrooms. Once a year, with government consent, they visit graves of the deceased. Few live in the Exclusion Zone: in total only several dozen people – one or two per village. They should not be there, but remain of their own volition.
|The burial procession of Marya Petrovna Gryshenko, 87, enters the cemetery in Straholesie|
On the outskirts of Chernobyl most women are widows. Portraits of lost husbands decorated with artificial flowers hang in their homes. Those worst afflicted by the radiation left this world long ago. The rest die of complications stemming from alcoholism – locals believe home-brewed vodka is the best cure for radiation. Their empty, drunken eyes hide the truth about the victims of Chernoby.
|Pavlo and Olga portion out meat, after killing a pig, amongst their family.|
Young people flee to cities or enlist in the army. They’ll never return. They’re all certain change will never come to this place and better lives lie elsewhere. There is nothing to count on in the present, no dream to chase for the future, and a total lack of commerce, industry, agriculture or entertainment.
|Women dance on Lenin street in Lugoviki during a party for Alinka, one-month-old, who was just baptized.|
What’s left? Fondly recalling memories of more than 25 years ago before Chernobyl took their loved ones, dreams and the rest of the world
|Landscape inside the exclusion zone, in the village of Gubin. People cross the border illegally every day looking for scrap metal, to pick mushrooms or to hunt|
|A wall in the abandoned School No 1, in the city of Prypiat, which was evacuated after the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986.|