The Russian Federation
Composed of 89 federated autonomous lands,
occupying a territory of 17,075,000 square km, with a population of
147,200,000 people, the Russian Federation was the center of the former
Soviet Socialist Republics. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 affected
more than 2.7 million people in Russia, which is equivalent to about
half of the population of Denmark. The disaster also contaminated an
area of 57,000 square km, which is about twice the size of Albania. The
accident rendered large areas of Russian agricultural lands unsafe for
food production. Organizations within and outside the UN immediately
sought ways to provide emergency assistance to the country after the
accident and have implemented numerous projects since then.
Since 1986 the United Nations organizations, leading NGOs and
Foundations have implemented nearly 70 projects, providing more than
$22 million in assistance to the areas affected by Chernobyl in Russia.
(This information does not include Chernobyl projects implemented by
the European Community and UNESCO).
Since 1986, UN system organizations have worked closely with
non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and foundations to speed
recovery in the affected areas. Attention has been focused on health
and socio-psychological projects, which have accounted for 18.5 million
in assistance. Medical examinations in 1985-2000 in Kaluga, one of the
contaminated regions, showed that cases of cancer significantly
increased, including cancer of the breast by 121 percent, lungs 58
percent, esophagus 112 percent, uterus 88 percent, lymphatic and
blood-forming tissues by 59 percent. The Russian registry system
recorded that many of the 200,000 Russian liquidators who were involved
in recovery operations at Chernobyl and received the highest exposure
to radiation, developed disabilities, and, at the age of 48, needed
government medical and social assistance. The Russian health sector
continues to struggle to provide medicines, and equipment to treat
those most affected by the accident.
An additional $ 1 million was allocated towards projects focused on
rehabilitating and de-contaminating agricultural areas. According to
Russian estimates, some 98-99 percent of the population have eaten
contaminated food at one point in the years after the accident. UN
system organizations invested in the use of Caesium Binders to reduce
Caesium-137 found in the soil. Other tactics were used in order to
rehabilitate agriculture, and diminish the amount of radionuclides
found in agricultural areas. Among other important projects were
communication development projects, which exceeded $2.2 million.
Nuclear safety and economic rehabilitation projects amounted to less
than $150,000 and obviously were the ones of less priority at that
After 17 years of international assistance, it is clear that millions
of people in Russia still suffer from radioactive contamination. A
great deal of work still needs to be done. Contributions for Chernobyl
projects represent only a small amount of what is required to help
Russia develop. Russia spent $3.8 billion from 1992 to 1998 in dealing
with the effects of the disaster. Of this amount, some 3 billion was
paid in compensation to victims of Chernobyl.
The United Nations recently announced a new focus on sustainable
development for the countries affected by Chernobyl. The hope is that
new approaches to development in the three countries affected by
Chernobyl can empower individuals and communities, and mobilize
additional resources for recovery.