IAEA to blame for the loss of social benefits for Chernobyl rescuers

The Belarusians who were involved in the 1986 Chernobyl accident rescue effort will not be able to see their social benefits restored like it happened in the case of WWII and Afghan war veterans. In the early 1990s, the International Atomic Energy Agency objected to signing an intergovernmental agreement in this regard.

An international agreement “On mutual recognition of the rights to transport privileges for invalids and participants of the World War II and equated persons” was signed on March 12, 1993 in Moscow by the CIS heads of the state. Courtesy of this agreement, war veterans in Belarus have managed to receive their benefits back. The agreement signed 15 years ago overrides the recently enforced Law on Social Benefits in Belarus.

Vyachaslau Kebich was the then prime minister of Belarus. The European Radio for Belarus asked him to recall whether a similar agreement was signed with regard to the Chernobyl rescuers.

Vyachaslau Kebich: “Every country took a separate decision on this matter. There was no common agreement”.

He recalls that Belarus felt very insulted. The Chernobyl issue was raised at the international level, but even the United Nations offered no support.

Vyachaslau Kebich: “I made a speech at the United Nations, trying to draw attention to the issue, but it was simply disregarded”. IAEA had dealt with this issue for a lengthy period of time, but they also eventually chased it away. Japan was the only country that provided assistance and moral support in this case.

IAEA is the world’s nuclear energy watchdog. But they didn’t want to recognize that nuclear reactors were not perfect. Otherwise, they would have to curtail the development of nuclear power plants”.

According to the politician, he had objected to the Law on Benefits from the very beginning. He says that the people involved in the Chernobyl rescue effort have simply been insulted. Especially now that some categories of citizens have seen their privileges restored. Only a separate president’s edict could return the Chernobyl benefits.

Kebich: “Nobody else but the president can do it today”.

The European Radio for Belarus decided to find out if officials at the Department for Liquidation of the Chernobyl Accidents Effects were trying to help somehow return the social benefits for the people. But Uladzimir Chernikau, Department’s First Deputy Director, said that they didn’t even have the right to raise this topic.

“We don’t have the right to raise this question. When the president takes a decision which is passed by the parliament, we are expected to bring our law in line with the law on social guarantees and benefits. This is a normal law-making practice. The president announced on TV that all motions in this regard would not be justified”, he said.

The European Radio for Belarus reported earlier that the police, KGB, border guards, prosecutors and other law-enforcement agencies retained their privileges. It has turned out that the law which envisaged the abolition of benefits for everyone has affected only schoolchildren, students, pensioners and Chernobyl liquidators.