Russian soldiers threatened to ‘turn everyone into meat’ Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant worker that was kept hostage there for more than 24 days
Since the first day of war Chornobyl NPP was occupied by Russians. Nearly 300 people were taken hostage there — both civilian staff and Ukrainian soldiers. The staff that had been on the shift on February 24, 2022 stayed more than 24 days at the plant before they were allowed to leave. The flag of Ukraine was finally raised on the territory of the Chornobyl NPP and the Ukrainian national anthem was sung on April 2, 2022. We tell the story, published by “The Village”, of one staff member that is kept anonymous for his own safety from the first person as it is.
“It was almost morning of February 24 when we heard explosions near the city of Prypiat. Later on, the shift supervisor addressed us through the loudspeakers, asking us to evacuate from the plant.
After we ate, however, a convoy of tanks arrived to the Chornobyl NPP from Prypiat, approached one of the buildings, and the tanks aimed their barrels at it. Russian soldiers threatened to ‘turn everyone into meat.’ Despite the fact that it is prohibited to carry out combat action on the plant’s territory.
Russians didn’t really understand the nature of the facilities that had captured at all. When they heard that there were radiation sources all around them, they looked surprised, flinched away in horror. They even asked how to remove radiation. I advised them not to accumulate it in the first place. When they asked how to avoid its accumulation, I told them: ‘Pack up your stuff and go home, then you won’t accumulate it.’
I didn’t have anywhere to sleep. We ended up just sleeping at our workstations — on the floor, on our coats. Our only means of communication was the radio. We were constantly listening to news about what was happening in Ukraine. We did not have mobile service or internet.
At some point, the occupying troops decided to make a fake story about delivering humanitarian aid to the power plant staff, but our management immediately warned us not to take part in any of that […] Russians put on the clothes and pretended to be Chornobyl NPP staff. But those who know what the power plant staff really wear would never believe that […]
Then the Chornobyl NPP was cut off from the electricity supply due to combat action and for three days we were using the diesel generators. We had used up our store of diesel within the first day and the invaders, understanding that the situation was about to spiral out of control, withdrew diesel tankers from the frontlines [to supply the power plant].
As soon as the Ukrainian utility workers managed to fix the power line, it was destroyed by shelling once again. Eventually we had to connect the plant to a Belarusian electricity supply line.
Both of the main bridges, the rail bridge and the road bridge, have been destroyed. It would be possible to leave the Chornobyl NPP via Vyshhorod and then Kyiv, but fighting was ongoing there, so we would need ‘green corridors’ for evacuation. Our relatives created a pressure group so on 20 March we were given evacuation buses. When we were leaving Chornobyl, a Russian commander asked us: ‘After you get some rest, you will return here, right?’
When we were crossing Dnipro, we saw those colleagues who were coming to replace us. We have to give them credit, as they knew very little about the conditions in which they would have to work. This is a heroic deed, in my opinion.”