Igor Pavlovets was one of the first children to be born during the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. He was eight years old at the time this documentary was filmed. He is missing his right arm, his legs are stunted, and is now living with foster parents in Surrey, United Kingdom. Igor’s foster parents discovered him in a children’s hospital in Minsk, Belarus. His mother had lived in a village very close and was very ill from radiation poisoning. When Igor was born she was absolutely horrified and decided to leave him at the hospital.
Igor has spent his whole life in institutions and his future is full of uncertainty. He’s in the United Kingdom for the fitting of artificial limbs, his deformities were caused by the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
The disaster itself occurred on Saturday 26 April 1986, at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. As nuclear disasters go it is rated on the scale as a seven, which is the maximum level of severity. The only other to come close was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan which occurred in 2011.
Many disadvantaged children who were born around Chernobyl suffer from similar deformities and a wide range of health problems that are attributable not only to the Chernobyl accident itself but also to the poor state of post-Soviet health systems.
Even though the disaster occurred in 1986, many of you may be surprised to learn that the plant itself remained operational right up until December 15, 2000, a full 14 years after the accident. This was due to the Soviet Union and later Ukraine not being able to afford to shut the plant down. As of 2020, the radiation exposure from that radionuclide has declined by half since the 1986 accident.
Directed by: Mandy Temple