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21-7-2019, 08:30 UTC
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The Chernobyl accident and the Volyn Czechs
In the eastern part of Ukraine there lives a Czech minority called the Volyn Czechs, who settled there in the mid-19th century. Several of these villages are situated just tens of kilometres from the Chernobyl power plant. They were hard-hit by the radiation and for example the village of Malá Zubovščina in the region was slated (in December 1989) for displacement.
The Soviet authorities did not consider relocating them to one place and this presented a real danger of disintegration of the Czech community. That is why the Volyn Czechs - people with Czech nationality and Soviet citizenship – appealed to Czechoslovakia for help. They asked in particular for their children to be able to spend their holidays in Czechoslovakia and if possible for several hundred families from the contaminated region to be able to move back to their old homeland. A letter containing this appeal was handed over to Czechoslovak president Václav Havel during his visit to the Soviet Union in February 1990. The reaction of the post-communist Czechoslovak government was positive. Several families were moved to Kuřivody, which is a community in the former military area of Ralsko. Other families got houses in Rokytnice which were left vacant after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, two families moved to Zlín, twelve families got new houses in Butoves, originally built for the use of Soviet soldiers stationed in Czechoslovakia.