Spring mood

[b]Belarus’ Gomel region has perhaps suffered most from the Chernobyl catastrophe yet, today, it looks back from a more positive stance[/b]The Korma district is among those whose biography is divided into ‘before’ the accident and ‘after’. In the early 1990s, its population dissipated as factories closed and prospects narrowed. Today, it’s one of the Gomel region’s leaders in terms of industrial production and one of Belarus’ best examples of material resource saving.“I won’t deny that we’re pleased with the result. To achieve reasonable savings, we’ve injected over Br1bn,” explains the Chairman of the Korma District Executive Committee, Vasily Yatsevich. “Saving is a comprehensive issue, involving specialists’ training, the introduction of innovations and a careful attitude towards the land. We still have much to do. However, our district already boasts a good, post-Chernobyl economy, with enterprises working profitably.”
Belarus’ Gomel region has perhaps suffered most from the Chernobyl catastrophe yet, today, it looks back from a more positive stance

The Korma district is among those whose biography is divided into ‘before’ the accident and ‘after’. In the early 1990s, its population dissipated as factories closed and prospects narrowed. Today, it’s one of the Gomel region’s leaders in terms of industrial production and one of Belarus’ best examples of material resource saving.
“I won’t deny that we’re pleased with the result. To achieve reasonable savings, we’ve injected over Br1bn,” explains the Chairman of the Korma District Executive Committee, Vasily Yatsevich. “Saving is a comprehensive issue, involving specialists’ training, the introduction of innovations and a careful attitude towards the land. We still have much to do. However, our district already boasts a good, post-Chernobyl economy, with enterprises working profitably.”
Mr. Yatsevich organises an ‘excursion’ through the district centre, pointing out repaired roads, newly-constructed residential housing and new social facilities. “This is an old three-storey building,” he says as he indicates a light-coloured house in the town’s centre. “It’s about 50 years old but has been reconstructed.” Korma is different from how it used to be some 15 years ago, when many planned to leave. Now, people dream of reviving deserted buildings and estates from past centuries. “This is our sacred mission: to revive our historical and natural legacy for tourists,” Mr. Yatsevich smiles. “We really have something
to show to our guests.”
Korma is to breathe new life into the Doria-Dernalovich estate, constructed in the late 19th — early 20th century. Alongside a manor, it includes a starch-making facility, a mill and other household outbuildings. The mill is still used for its original purpose, due to the efforts of an entrepreneur. The starch-making plant is a typical example of the industrial architecture of the past.
Another sight, registered on the List of Cultural Values, is situated near the entrance to the town: St. Nicholas’ Church, built in 1836. Following the 1918 civil war, church services ceased, with the cross and bell removed. It became a warehouse and, later, served as a bakery, which burnt down in the early 1960s. “It could become the town’s business card,” believe local residents. The surviving walls have a real majestic solemnity.
For several years, an international technical assistance project has been implemented in the Gomel region, entitled Area-Based Development of the Chernobyl Affected Regions. It is financed via the European Commission and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as from local budgets. “We’ve discussed plans of action at a workshop in Gomel,” explains the Head of the Regional Executive Committee’s Department to Eliminate the Consequences of the Chernobyl Catastrophe, Yevgeny Belash. “The districts of Vetka, Buda-Koshelevo, Zhitkovichi and Khoiniki have been chosen as pilots, with contracts signed with each District Executive Committee, outlining major areas of partnership.”
Last year, a children’s playground and parking were developed in Vetka, in the courtyard of a 60-flat building, as part of the pilot project. The UNDP Office purchased construction materials, as well as almost Br50m of equipment for the play area. The same amount of funds was allocated from the local budget for the same purpose. The residents also helped at a practical level and the playground opened last October, with the Head of the European Commission for Ukraine and Belarus in attendance. “In 2009, the implementation of two more projects began in Vetka, jointly financed by the UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation” Mr. Belash explains.
The Protection of Houses and Backyards in Zapesochie Village from Flood project is being realised in the Zhitkovichi district, partly financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, the UNDP Office and the Global Economic Fund’s programme for small grants. Nine more pilot projects are in the pipeline, including the Social and Medical Rehabilitation of the Vetka District’s Population which has Suffered from the Chernobyl Catastrophe, the Construction of a Children’s Playground in Yurkevichi Village in the Zhitkovichi District and Vetka District Spring. Each of the affected areas in the Gomel region has a memorial honouring those who have suffered as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe. One more plaque is to appear in Gomel, near an Orthodox church relocated from a deserted village in the Vetka district.
An Avenue of Memories is being created in the city’s Festivalny Park, near the cathedral. It will commemorate those towns and villages of the Gomel region which became abandoned following the reactor explosion in Chernobyl. The names of 365 villages and towns are to be etched in stones; residents had to leave their homes forever…

By Vera Nikolaeva
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