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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Lottery Will Benefit Chernobyl Victims

The American doctor whose name became a household word in the Soviet Union when he flew here in 1986 to treat Chernobyl victims has returned to Moscow to launch a hard-currency lottery that will raise funds for Chernobyl-related medical care and research.

"We are desperate for money", Dr. Robert Peter Gale, a bone marrow transplant and radiation specialist, said at a press conference Thursday. "Not only to help victims of Chernobyl, but victims of radiation".

The Children of Chernobyl International Lottery will sell its $1 scratch-off tickets at outlets throughout Moscow and eventually Russia. The lottery has received permission from the government to sell 1 billion tickets.

Twenty-five percent of each ticket sold will go to supporting Chernobyl-related medical care and research, 50 percent toward prizes and the remaining 25 percent to operational costs.

The lottery, a joint venture between American-based GeoLotto and the Russian firm IJV Inc. offers the chance to win up to $100, 000 here and to participate in an American lottery with top prizes of up to $42 million.

Gale said that the former Soviet Union's failing health-care system and the need to deal with three governments - Russia, Ukraine and Belarus - made treating radiation victims all the more difficult.

The victims were irradiated when a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev exploded and caught fire on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a wide area of Europe. Heaviest concentrations fell on Ukraine and neighboring Belarus.

Gale said his work showed that children exposed to radiation seem to be experiencing thyroid problems.

"An equal problem is how to do something and not just describe the problems", he said.

"Our greatest opportunity is in prevention", but this takes money, he added.

"I'm delighted to be getting funds we need", Gale said, referring to the lottery. "Though I'm not a gambler at heart, I invested $1 in a ticket".