Board chairman of “Afghans of CHORNOBYL” seeks solidarity with Hiroshima for nuclear abolition

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Oleksandr Ryabeka, chairman of the board of “Afghans of CHORNOBYL,” visited Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at Hiroshima City Hall on April 1. This Ukrainian non-governmental organization (NGO) provides support to victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Mr. Ryabeka called on Mr. Matsui to promote cooperation between the city and his organization in seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“Afghans of CHORNOBYL” is an NGO established by former military personnel who battled fires at the time of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. The group also lends support to war veterans and surviving family members of soldiers sent from the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Between 1991, when the former Soviet Union was dissolved, and 1996, Ukraine removed about 1,800 nuclear warheads from its land, shifting them back to Russia. Mr. Ryabeka told Mr. Matsui that he hopes to create solidarity with Hiroshima to prevent further nuclear tragedies from taking place. Mr. Matsui expressed empathy for the chairman’s wish.

Mr. Ryabeka and five other members of the organization arrived in Hiroshima on March 30 to learn about the damage caused by the atomic bombing. Toward this end, they paid a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. They will return to Ukraine on April 3.

(Originally published on April 2, 2013)