The disaster at Chernobyl three decades ago came at a time when the rigid foundations of the Soviet system began to be challenged at various levels.
First, there was the new Soviet leader who, as the joke had it at the time, was the first in a long time who could walk and talk unaided.
Mikhail Gorbachev had been in power for little over a year. He shook not just the geriatric hierarchy of the Communist Party but also allowed, even encouraged, debate about subjects that previously had been taboo. The economy, pluralism of thought and the environment were top of the agenda.
Little did he know that Chernobyl would take the debate and public activism to a completely new level.
All of a sudden the USSR witnessed a new phenomenon – the grassroots, green movement. In Ukraine and Belarus in particular, the countries most affected by Chernobyl, these movements were gaining strength at an unprecedented pace.
Read more at BBC.com…