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Chornobyl (as transliterated from , ), orChernobyl (as transliterated from the , ), is a city in northern Ukrainemarker, in Kiev Oblastmarker (Province), near the border with Belarusmarker.

The city was evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl disastermarker at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plantmarker, located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) north-northwest. The power plant is within Chernobyl Raion (District), but the city was not the residence of the power-plant workers. When the power plant was under construction, Prypiatmarker, a city larger and closer to the power plant, had been built as home for the power-plant workers.

Though the city today is mostly uninhabited, a small number of inhabitants reside in houses marked with signs stating that the "Owner of this house lives here". Workers on watch and administrative personnel of the Zone of Alienationmarker are stationed in the city on a long term basis. Prior to its evacuation, the city was inhabited by about 14,000 residents.

Name origin

The city is named after the Ukrainian word for mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), which is "chornobyl". The word is a combination of chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks), hence it literally means black grass or black stalks. That may signify burnt grass, perhaps prior to cultivation.

Sometimes chornobyl is erroneously translated as simply "wormwood" (which most commonly refers to Artemisia absinthium), with consequent apocalyptic associations, probably originating from a The New York Times article by Serge Schmemann, Chernobyl Fallout: Apocalyptic Tale, July 25, 1986. The article quoted an unnamed "prominent Russian writer" as claiming the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl.

In fact, there are over 160 kinds of Artemisia, and the terminology is not generally accepted. Some sources refer to Artemisia vulgaris as "common wormwood", while others claim that "common wormwood" is Artemisia absinthium.

Wormwood is a different (but related) plant, Artemisia absinthium, Полин (Polyn). "Polyn" has no English equivalent, but corresponds to the botanical genus Artemisia. Botanically, mugwort is "Common Polyn" ; while wormwood is "Bitter Polyn" .

The word "wormwood" is used in the English text of the Book of Revelation, whose usage as the name of a plant matches to that of the original Greek (Absinthe). The apocalyptic context is that 1/3 of all fresh waters will be poisoned by bitterness because of a bright 'star' called wormwood / absinthe.Certainly, the estimates from Soviet Russiamarker are that huge areas are contaminated by various poisons, among them radio-activity, the water being dangerous to drink.The Apocalytic text merely says the star is 'called' wormwood, and does not indicate that thename is etymologically or scientifically correct.

Chernobyl bears poetic connotations in folklore, for a number of reasons. Its strong smell is evocative of the steppe, as various species of Artemisia are widespread there. Chernobyl roots were used in folk medicine to heal neurotic conditions, although an overdose could lead to neurological disorders, including memory loss.

History

Chernobyl first appeared in a charter of 1193 described as a hunting-lodge of knyaz Rostislavich. It was a crown village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century. The village was granted as a fiefdom to Filon Kmita, a captain of the royal cavalry, in 1566. The province containing Chernobyl was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland in 1569, and then annexed by the Russian Empiremarker in 1793. Prior to the 20th century Chornobyl was inhabited by Ukrainian and some Polish peasants, and a relatively large number of Jews.

Chernobyl had a rich religious history. The Jews were brought by Filon Kmita during the Polish campaign of colonization. The traditionally Christian Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian peasantry of the district was largely forced by Poland to convert to the Greek Catholic Uniate religion after 1596, and returned to Eastern Orthodoxy only after Ukraine was annexed by Muscovy.

The Dominican church and monastery were founded in 1626 by Lukasz Sapieha, at the height of the Counter-reformation. There was a group of Old Catholics, which opposed the decrees of the Council of Trent. The Dominican monastery was sequestrated in 1832, and the church of the Old Catholics was disbanded in 1852.

In the second half of 18th century, Chernobyl became one of the major centers of Hasidic Judaism. The Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty had been founded by Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky. The Jewish population suffered greatly from pogroms in October 1905 and in March–April 1919, when many Jews were killed and others were robbed, at the instigation of the Russian nationalist Black Hundreds. In 1920, the Twersky dynasty left Chernobyl, and it ceased to exist as a Hasidic center.

Since the 1880s, Chernobyl has seen many changes of fortune. In 1898 Chernobyl had a population of 10,800, including 7,200 Jews. In World War I the village was occupied and in the ensuing Civil War was fought over by Bolsheviks and Ukrainians. In the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, it was taken first by the Polish Army and then by cavalry of the Red Army. From 1921, it was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.

During the period 1929–33 Chernobyl suffered greatly from mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed. The Polish community of Chernobyl was deported to Kazakhstanmarker in 1936 during the Frontier Clearances. The Jewish community was murdered during the German occupation of 1941–44. Twenty years later, the area was chosen as the site of the first nuclear power station on Ukrainian soil.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chernobyl remained part of Ukrainemarker, now an independent nation.

Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster

On April 26, 1986, Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, exploded. The explosion took place at around one in the morning while the neighboring town of Pripyat slept. Four workers were killed instantly. Thirty-six hours later, the residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate, and most never returned.

In 2003, the United Nations Development Programme launched a project called the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme for the recovery of the affected areas. The program launched its activities based on the Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident report recommendations and was initiated in February 2002. The main goal of the CRDP’s activities is supporting the Government of Ukraine to mitigate long-term social, economic and ecological consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, among others. CRDP works in the four most Chernobyl-affected areas in Ukraine: Kiev Oblastmarker, Zhytomyrska Oblast, partially Kievmarker, Chernihivska Oblast and Rivne Oblast.

Chernobylite

Chernobylite is the name cited by two media sources for highly radioactive, unusual and potentially novel crystalline formations found at the Chernobyl power-plant after the explosion. These formations were found in the basement below Reactor #4 during an investigation into missing reactor fuel.

These formations may be similar or identical to Čejkaite.

See also



References

  1. Norman Davies, Europe: A History, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198201710
  2. Chernobyl ancient history and maps.
  3. Davies, Norman (1995) "Chernobyl", The Sarmatian Review, vol. 15, No. 1.
  4. CRDP: Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (United Nations Development Program)
  5. BBC Special Report: 1997: Containing Chernobyl?
  6. Suicide Mission to Chernobyl: NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)1991, 60mins
  7. excerpt
  8. Čejkaite at mindat.org
  9. Cejkaite Mineral Data


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