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BBC News Online: World: Europe


Friday, 15 December, 2000, 02:51 GMT

European press review



Chernobyl: Is it really curtains?

"Today is the day the world has been waiting for for 14 years: Chernobyl is to be closed down," says Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau of the power station that caused the world's worst nuclear accident.

"The Ukrainian power plant, which caused 10,000 victims, plunged the world into terror... and stamped its name on Germany's nuclear power policy, will produce power no more," the paper says.

However the paper points out that this is far from the end of the story, as work on the contaminated reactor will still be going on 100 years from now.

Under the heading of "Homeland Chernobyl", Berlin's Die Welt notes that people are returning in increasing numbers to their homes in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster area.

"Humans are creatures of habit, and where they once lived is where they wish to live again, even in the most extreme danger," it says.

The French weekly Le Point says that an official report on the effects in France of the roaming radioactive cloud from the Chernobyl disaster has yet to see the light of day even though it has been ready for two months.

It believes that publication is being delayed because, as the paper puts it, "the figures in the report have sown a wind of panic" among the health authorities.

"The worst of it is that the authorities did nothing to protect the public at the time," the paper points out.

Money, not compassion

But the end of Chernobyl evokes very different feelings in Russia.

"This nuclear power plant is being closed because they were promised money to close it, not because people are dying," says the Russian weekly Obshchaya Gazeta.

"The closure of the power station is just the start of new Chernobyl problems," it adds. "Chernobyl has created a community of the doomed in Ukraine and this is not the end of its legacy."

"It is not just a case of Ukraine becoming even more dependent on the West," says Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Many experts believe shutting the power station down could cause the whole Ukrainian electricity system to collapse in the winter."

The paper says it sounded out the feelings of ordinary people, like those living in the Chernobyl dormitory town of Slavutich. "They virtually accused the Ukrainian government of selling out national interests," it notes.

Komsomolskaya Gazeta likens the shutdown to a funeral "conducted with much pomp".

"This show will please everyone except the Chernobyl workers themselves," it says. For them "the closure is a personal tragedy".

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.


Internet links: El Pais (Spain) | El Periodico de Catalunya (Spain) | El Mundo (Spain) | Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany) | Le Point (France) | Die Welt (Germany) | Obshchaya Gazeta (Russia) | Magyar Hirlap (Hungary) | Nepszabadsag (Hungary) | Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Russia) | La Tribune de Geneve (Switzerland) | L'Express (France) | Le Soir (Belgium) |
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