Chernobyl tourists urged to be respectful after photo controversy

Visitors wait in line to buy snacks and souvenirs at a souvenir shop next to the Dytyatky checkpoint after a tour in the Chernobyl exclusion zone

It isn't safe to live there, but by signing up for a tour you can visit the area surrounding the power plant.

It's officially taken the Communists of Russian Federation one month to publicly denounce HBO's acclaimed Chernobyl series, which the Marxist-Leninist organization calls "demonizing" and an "ideological manipulation" of the events that occurred during the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Since the release HBO miniseries "Chernobyl", tourists have been flocking to the most radioactive place on Earth to snag a selfie for Instagram - so much so that even the creator of HBO's Chernobyl, Craig Mazin, weighed in.

The site, near the city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, has become an Instagrammers hot spot to capture the ideal "influencer" photo in a desperate bid for "likes" since the popular series' release.

While the explosion directly caused around 31 deaths, millions of people were exposed to risky radiation levels.

The five-part series, which ended on June 3 in the United States, tells the story of the missteps and mismanagement that led to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the world's worst nuclear disaster.

"Very rarely do people go to these sites because they enjoy, in some morbid, dark way, the suffering of others".


The controversy is reminiscent of previous incidents at other important sites.

One of the photo's that have sparked outrage was of a woman who was stripping off her hazmat suit in Pripyat.

The nuclear plant and the abandoned town that neighbours it in Ukraine have witnessed a spike in visitors since the HBO drama aired last month to rave reviews.

It's sad, she continued, "that people only see me as an "Instagram model" and can't believe that I'm deeply interested in history or physics".

However, the Atlantic's Taylor Lorenz pointed out the tweet's inaccuracies - only two of four photos belongs to a social media influencer, and some of the cropped-out captions actually discuss the tragedy - and wrote about the changing norms of Instagram posts, including those with solemn sentiments.

English language tours to the site are said to cost around $100 (£78) and usually consist of a round trip from Kiev to the town of Chernobyl, a visit to the plant itself, and a walk around Pripyat which housed 50,000 people but is now empty after being evacuated in the aftermath of the explosion on 26 April, 1986. "While some critics might still view the posts as distasteful and insensitive, most of these users are all trying to say the same thing: 'I was here'".

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