Alla Yaroshinskaya
( 1992 , Russia )

...for revealing, against official opposition and persecution, the extent of the damaging effects of the Chernobyl disaster on local people.

...What is most important is saving every human life which is fading away, often unknowing, on the radioactive plains of the former Soviet Union.


Alla Yaroshinskaya was born in 1953 in the Zhitomir region of the Ukraine and on graduating in journalism from Kiev University worked for 13 years as a correspondent of the local newspaper. At university she was a political dissident. During her work she consistently tried to expose party corruption and suffered administrative penalties. At the end of 1986 she began to feel uneasy about the supposed evacuation of areas, which had been contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl accident in April that year, and she began to investigate.

Contact

Rubliovskoe Shosse 34
Building 2, Apt. 437
Moscow
RUSSIA 121609

Biography

Yaroshinskaya discovered that people from highly contaminated villages were being settled in hardly less contaminated villages nearby; that their health problems were serious but officially denied and ignored; that their new accommodation was grossly inadequate; and that people could not survive without eating the highly radioactive food being grown in the area. Her newspaper not only refused to publish her article but commissioned another journalist to write a reassuring article about the area instead. Her piece was also refused by Pravda and Izvestia and other national papers to which she sent it. But, under the influence of glasnost, Izvestia did publish a story about how her work was being suppressed. Locally, she distributed samizdat versions of her article. Great pressure began to be put on her, but popular support for her was great. In 1989 she was nominated for election to the new Supreme Soviet of the USSR and was elected with 90% of the vote.

On the Ecology and Glasnost Committee of the Supreme Soviet, she used her position to continue her campaign for full disclosure of the Chernobyl contamination. In 1990 she was appointed to a Commission to look into the matter. That year she made a presentation on the subject to the European Parliament. In the USSR the Commission’s progress was blocked by bureaucrats at every turn and even after the abortive putsch in 1991 she was not permitted to copy relevant documents. In April 1992, having made clandestine co …

Yaroshinskaya discovered that people from highly contaminated villages were being settled in hardly less contaminated villages nearby; that their health problems were serious but officially denied and ignored; that their new accommodation was grossly inadequate; and that people could not survive without eating the highly radioactive food being grown in the area. Her newspaper not only refused to publish her article but commissioned another journalist to write a reassuring article about the area instead. Her piece was also refused by Pravda and Izvestia and other national papers to which she sent it. But, under the influence of glasnost, Izvestia did publish a story about how her work was being suppressed. Locally, she distributed samizdat versions of her article. Great pressure began to be put on her, but popular support for her was great. In 1989 she was nominated for election to the new Supreme Soviet of the USSR and was elected with 90% of the vote.

On the Ecology and Glasnost Committee of the Supreme Soviet, she used her position to continue her campaign for full disclosure of the Chernobyl contamination. In 1990 she was appointed to a Commission to look into the matter. That year she made a presentation on the subject to the European Parliament. In the USSR the Commission’s progress was blocked by bureaucrats at every turn and even after the abortive putsch in 1991 she was not permitted to copy relevant documents. In April 1992, having made clandestine copies of top-secret documents of the Communist Party Politburo, her resultant article, “Forty secret protocols of the Kremlin wise men”, was published by Izvestia and picked up by the Western press.

Yaroshinskaya is the author or co-author of a dozen books and over 700 articles in scientific magazines and the mass media. Her book on Chernobyl was published in five languages. She is also originator, editor-in-chief and co-author of the Nuclear Encyclopaedia, the first of its kind in the world, which shows the true nature of nuclear problems.

Being unpopular with the Communist authorities in her native Ukraine, Yaroshinskaya stayed in Russia after the Soviet Union broke up. In 1993, after working as Deputy to the Minister of Press and Information, she became Adviser to the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. She has been a member of Russian delegations to the United Nations for negotiating an extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to the UN Women’s Conference (1995).

Actively engaged in political and public work on human rights, press freedom and nuclear issues, she was President of the Ecological Charity Fund, and is Co-chair of the Russian Ecological Congress, Chief of the Federal Council of the all-Russian Social Democratic Movement and a member of other international committees. In 1998 she received an international women’s award as one of “100 heroines of the 20th century”.

Later, Alla Yaroshinskaya was active in organising an international team of scientists, lawyers, activists and victims of Chernobyl to prepare and to pass an appeal to the European Court on Chernobyl-related crimes against humanity. She has also pushed for a Chernobyl “Nuremberg” trial against the former Soviet authorities.

 
 

FAQ about Alla Yaroshinskaya(asked in 2005)

  1. What is your main focus today?Nuclear non-proliferation.
  2. What does the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in 2006 mean to you?To look back and to look around to understand a current world situation, to try to do the work to improve people’s life, to explore new ideas on the next development of the world society.
  3. What do you think about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and recent developments in this area?The NPT does not work!
    It was a big failure. The society must mobilise itself to do the step to change a situation, to disarm and to eliminate nuclear weapons. The nations need comprehensive treaties to ban nuclear weapons and step by step to eliminate them.
  4. When will life be better?When we all will try to make a difference and to act to fight for this better life. Act now!
  5. What must we do for a better life?We must act intensively, don’t fear – you do right work. Remember your rights and try to defend yourself, try to change your mind and life!
  6. What effect has the RLA had on your work? Great effect! It has given and is giving me the strong impulse to work and to create and to act.

Publications

  • 25 Years later. Chernobyl. Crime without Punishment. Transaction Publishers, 2001.
  • Chernobyl. The forbidden truth. University of Nebraska Press, 1995.From Nucleus to Nuclear Targeting and Nuclear Proliferation. Download(pdf)
  • Consequences of Widening Income Differentials, Social Stratification and Environmental Degradation: The Situation and Perspectives in Russia. Download (pdf)