chernobyl motorcycling fake! < on 4/30/2004 11:22 PM >
Chornobyl "Ghost Town" story is a fabrication TOP <#top> e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:
I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.
I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.
She did, however, bring a motorcycle helmet. They organized their trip through a Kyiv travel agency and the administration of the Chornobyl zone (and not her father). They were given the same standard excursion that most Chernobyl tourists receive. When the Web site appeared, Zone Administration personnel were in an uproar over who approved a motorcycle trip in the zone. When it turned out that the motorcycle story was an invention, they were even less pleased about this fantasy Web site.
Because of those problems, Elena and her husband have changed the Web site and the story considerably in the last few days. Earlier versions of the narrative lied more blatantly about Elena taking lone motorcycle trips in the zone. That has been changed to merely suggest that she does so, which is still misleading.
I would not normally bother to correct someone's silly Chornobyl fantasy. Indeed, correcting all the factual errors and falsehoods in "Ghost Town" would consume as much space as the Web site itself. But the motorcycle story was such an outrageous fiction that I thought the readers of e-Poshta should know.
Mary Mycio, J.D.
Legal Program Director IREX U-Media Shota Rustaveli St. 38b, No. 16 Kyiv 01023, Ukraine Tel: (380-44) 220-6374, 228-6147 Fax: 227-7543
New Information, added Sep 19 / 04 from email@example.com Hey this is too much trouble to get logged in to your website to make a posting. I have known Elena for years, so I know how much is fake and how much is true. I know that her birthday is Feb 24, 1974, so she is 30 and not 26. I know that she cannot even ride a bike. the bike is her ex husbands. She has been divorced for 5 years. she can only ride a bicycle or little scooter.
[last edit 5/3/2004 5:28 PM by TurboZutek - edited 1 times] We all had ostriches. My dad had an ostrich farm! I remember one day someone came in and said the high altitude bombing of Kosovo had been a limited success, so we all went out and celebrated… by killing an ostrich and boiling it in kiwi fruit.
Out of pure curiosity how did you NOT notice it was a bit suspicious from the beginning like me and most of my UE mates did.
Have you not noticed that she's IN most of the pictures, mostly with both her hands occupied, so without very carefully staging each picture with a tripod and timer it couldn't be done. She wouldn't want to spend all that time setting it up if she was worried about radiation, which she mentions several times on each page.
That is a very good question indeed... I think in terms of thought here is how my process ran:
1. Absorb story. 2. Decide if I would or wouldn't. 2. Wipe hands on pants.
That's as far as my brain went.. I'm sure others may be the same ?
[last edit 5/16/2004 6:50 PM by TurboZutek - edited 1 times] We all had ostriches. My dad had an ostrich farm! I remember one day someone came in and said the high altitude bombing of Kosovo had been a limited success, so we all went out and celebrated… by killing an ostrich and boiling it in kiwi fruit.
I've been biting my tongue about this one for a month now as I prepare my own website on the subject..
On April 27, 2004 (18th anniversary + 1 day of the Chernobyl disaster) I did a tour of Chernobyl, the nuclear power station and the ghost town Pripyat. As part of this, I had lengthy discussions with my tour guide about Elena's website, and she told me a few things about it.
1) Her father is NOT a scientist. She does NOT have an 'unlimited access' pass to Chernobyl 2) She has never been on a motorcycle inside Chernobyl. If you notice, the pictures including her bike stop when she gets to the access control point. They did NOT let her in. 3) While she HAS been to Chernobyl, she did exactly the same tour I did, and she went with her husband. 4) In her original website, she mentioned she never goes inside buildings without a girl who lives in Chernobyl, who "is familiar in the ways of the atom and has good taste in shoes" and makes her living showing people around. This person's name is Rimma Kiselitsa. She works for the group Chernobylinterinform (http://www.chernobyl.info) - and was my tour guide.
Yes, I had the same tour guide in Chernobyl that Elena had.
But there's more. I'll give an example - one of the pictures on her original site was inside a kindergarden. It's a picture of a baby's crib, with a photo of Lenin, a child's gas mask, and some toys. These photos were 'staged' by Elena's husband. He found the photo of Lenin elsewhere, put it in the cott and placed a gas mask alongside then took a photo of it.
This annoyed Rimma immensely. She was not impressed from start to finish about Elena and her husband, as they seemed to be trying to take photos for shock value - not how the place really is. I had no intention of doing such things (in fact, I saw the very cott they took the picture of I mentioned above, still in the same state that they left it in), and Rimma picked up on this. She took me to MANY places she didn't even tell Elena about. As part of my day's tour, I took over 400 photographs. I watched Rimma remove the gas mask and photograph of Lenin, and put them back in their original homes.
The reason I was told all of this was because Rimma is very annoyed about the whole affair - she's getting phone calls from movie producers wanting to make movies about this "heroic" girl. She's getting people demanding the same unlimited access pass that Elena supposedly has. These do not exist, and she's sick of explaining it to people. When I mentioned I too wished to create a website, she started to talk about it all. Rimma has been featured in Maxim magazine, a number of other magazines and newspapers, and indeed the day I did the tour she told me if I got back to my hotel in Kiev on time to turn on Channel 1 at 7:30pm - she was hosting a documentry on Chernobyl (which looked interesting, but I'm an Australian - I don't speak Ukrainian. I couldn't understand a word).
As part of this, I have offered for her to proof read my website before it goes live, to make sure I have all the facts right. In return, Rimma has said that I may use an "Endorsed by Chernobylinterinform" logo on the page.
So yes, Elena's website is fake, and much of the things she discusses are complete, utter, 100% bullshit.. such as you have to stand in the middle of the road. Rimma and I strolled through parks, across fields, around gardens, everywhere. At the end of it, the machine said I had as much radioactivity as when I arrived. Bugger all. This is Rimma's job, this is her life, and she's been doing it for 10 years. She KNOWS what she's talking about, and is truly one of the nicest people I've ever met.
I'll just finish by giving a link to a panoramic photo I took on a rooftop in the centre of Pripyat - it also shows Rimma in it standing just below me (in fact, due to the way the photos were stitched together she's actually shown twice).
Details of the tour that I AND Elena did can be found at http://www.ukrcam.com/tour/tour_3.html - where you can also book your own tours if you're interested. By the way, it's not exactly a tour group - it was myself, my driver (in the fearsome Soviet Lada car) and Rimma. That's it. It's a private tour, not exactly a Greyhound tour of Chernobyl..
It was quite simply the most AMAZING experience I've ever had.
Tony Brown (pulse .. at .. web-axis.net)
*modified to add my name for verification. [last edit 5/21/2004 6:47 PM by pulse - edited 1 times]
I am driving instructor and train people from all over the world to drive. Receintly I had a student from Ukraine far outside the "zone". He was telling me of all the problems they have of thieves going in and stealing autos and parts for resale. Seems like if you want to buy a really nice car for a really nice price and don't mind your hair falling out and having children with three thumbs head off to the Ukraine. It gives a whole new meaning to getting a "Hot Deal" on a used car. All men are cremated equal.
Posted by Mutt I am driving instructor and train people from all over the world to drive. Receintly I had a student from Ukraine far outside the "zone". He was telling me of all the problems they have of thieves going in and stealing autos and parts for resale. Seems like if you want to buy a really nice car for a really nice price and don't mind your hair falling out and having children with three thumbs head off to the Ukraine. It gives a whole new meaning to getting a "Hot Deal" on a used car.
Mutt, a student far outside the zone could only be reporting rumors -- much like Lena did with the really dumb chemical showers at the checkpoints in her original website that you can find in the mirrors.
Just think about it... a "really nice car" would have to be a vintage 1986 lada, volga or other Soviet model. After 18 years standing outside -- or even in a garage -- I doubt even such a shitty Soviet car would be "really nice" at this point. Thieves do steal scrap metal but that is rather different than a "really nice car".
As for the not really "nice cars" parts, I don't know. I owned a 1983 Zhiguli for a while but it proved to be surprisingly reliable and I never had to buy spare parts.