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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Appeals, Tribute Open Chernobyl Conference


VIENNA -- Leaders from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday painted a grim picture of the shattered lives and environmental chaos in their countries caused by radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Addressing more than 700 delegates, politicians and nuclear experts at an international conference on Chernobyl, speakers from the three ex-Soviet republics stressed above all that cash and aid were urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people living in contaminated areas.

The four-day conference opened with a minute of silence for past and future victims of the Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country was forced to spend 25 percent of its annual budget to deal with the effects of what he called a "radioactive tornado never seen before."

"We cannot conduct this work ... without the help of the international community. I call upon you to help return the contaminated areas to full life," Lukashenko said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk repeated his country's call for the West to deliver promised aid to help cover the enormous costs of closing the plant.

"Ukraine can not do this alone," Marchuk said. "Ukraine still has not gotten adequate financial support to solve this problem."