THE DAYS OF THE RETURN
Victory Day is celebrated in the former Soviet Union states on 9 May, in memory of the capitulation of Nazi Germany during World War II. This has become a special day for the former inhabitants
of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. In fact it is the day they are allowed to return to their homes, their towns and villages, visit the cemeteries and see again their world cancelled forever by the
radiation. Another special day is April 26, the anniversary of the nuclear disaster. Even on that day the former inhabitants are allowed to enter the exclusion zone to celebrate the memory of
that accident that took their life away.
The former inhabitants return to the area by queuing for more than 3 hours. A fundamental stop is a visit to the cemeteries, where the dead are celebrated with banquets on the tombs, according to the Orthodox tradition and where the former inhabitants have the opportunity to meet again. They are not allowed to visit their homes in the ghost town of Pripyat, where they left their lives, because the buildings are now in danger and could collapse at any moment. Even if someone ventures: the memory of those places is too strong for them.
And in memory of that tragedy in the main square of the city of Chernobyl, the celebrations begin from the morning of April 25, with commemorative medals given to the former liquidators, those who liquidated the nuclear accident, among handshakes and hugs between former colleagues and former inhabitants, up to the evening where concerts, poetry and memoir readings alternate on a small stage. A mass celebrated by the local pope of Chernobyl City accompanies the people until one hour and twenty-four a.m. the moment of the reactor explosion. In strict silence, people remember that moment that changed their lives forever.