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Sergii Mirnyi

 

The CHORNOBYL TOUR founder Sergii Mirnyi:
a radiation reconnaissance officer, writer and environmentalist

  

Sergii Mirnyi in the summer of 1986 served in the Chernobyl Zone
 
            Sergii Mirnyi  (photo by Alexandr Gnat, 2007)

 

In the summer of 1986, Sergii Mirnyi - the CHORNOBYL TOUR® founder, scientific advisor and tour-designer - rode in the Zone along almost the same routes as the visitors of nowadays. Only back then the trips were called radiation reconnaissance missions, the means of transportation was "armik” - a 7-ton military armored reconnaissance patrol vehicle BRDM-2rh – and the irradiation in the Zone center was 1,000 times more powerful. The exploded nuclear reactor 4 stood burst open, with its black burnt inside exposed, and each day the whole planet nervously perused newspapers in the morning and hurried to TV screens in the evening, trying to figure out what new surprises Chornobyl and its radiation keep in stock for them... In order not to let any of such surprises happen, tens of thousands of men in overalls and fatigues worked at this vast territory round-the-clock. And tens of thousands of families, which lived at these places for tens and perhaps hundreds generations, left their native land for good...

In August 1986 Sergii Mirnyi, the platoon commander of Chornobyl radiation reconnaissance, was cited for his courage and heroism by the commander of Kiev military area. After the demobilization from Chornobyl he returned to his civil lab and continued working as a physical chemist. But strangeness, oddness and inexplicability of what he witnessed in Chornobyl kept intriguing and haunting him. So, to resolve the enigma and make sense of the Chornobyl experience, he had to apply to one more university, this time abroad, and got MSc in Environmental Sciences and Policy, studied social sciences and humanities.

As a pro environmentalist, Sergii honestly and comprehensively, like no one before him, studied the actual state of the Chornobyl liquidators’  (mitigation workers’) health and its real reasons in his book which laid a foundation for a totally different view at contemporary disasters, their hazards and mitigation. He presented papers and keynote lectures at many international conferences in Europe, USA and Japan, and himself initiated and organized an interdisciplinary conference of a new kind, called "Chornobyl, etc.: Coping with Disasters".  In 2009, the leading Russian intellectual publishing house "Novoje Literaturnoye Obozreniye (New Literary Review)" in an international collective volume "Travma: punkty (Trauma: Items)" published his generalizing work "Chornobyl as info-trauma".

But how to convey to the general public the insightful adventures, interesting experiences and important conclusions of his mates, the radiation recon men? He had to learn one more craft, that of a writer and screenwriter. His first novella "Worse than radiation" was awarded at the magazine "Kinostsenariy (Screenplay)" competition (Moscow, 1997), and the screenplay "Breakthrough" was one of the winners at the most prestigious Ukrainian contest "Koronatsiya slova (Crowning of the word)" (Kiev, 2004). Two novels by Sergii Mirnyi – documentary "LIVE FORCE (Chornobyl tall-tales)” and fiction "Chernobyl comedy” – were published in Hungary (2006), Ukraine (2010) and Russia (in the largest publishing house EKSMO; 2011), were awarded at literary competitions, and finally become bestsellers, with approximate total number of only e-book downloads, approaching one million.

Sergii considers his projects in CHORNOBYL TOUR® as a logic sequel of his efforts on Chornobyl aftermath mitigation in radiation reconnaissance in 1986: "Back then we fought with physical, radiation contamination, and now we eliminate a different, informational kind: contamination of human brains by misconceptions and outright myths. In the Zone, radiation contamination is largely defeated, for it has been localized and REDUCED MORE THAN MILLION TIMES as compared with the first days of the disaster. But in human minds, in their thoughts, perception and imagination it continues to persist as "deadly dangerous” - as if the cleanup was never done. This causes enormous harm to the health and life of people and whole countries. So, in order to make radiation decontamination truly efficient – as it has turned out - one needs complement it with one more, informational cleanup. And, frankly, each time, when in the end of the day I with the group leave the Zone, I feel something similar to what I felt, driving out the column of radiation recon armiks back in 1986: that after my shift a bit more people have become safer, and the world slightly different – a bit cleaner and better a place.” 

    The readers' responses to the novels "LIVE FORCE” and "Chernobyl comedy” by Sergii Mirnyi
AN EFFICIENT PRACTICAL MANUAL ON RADIATION SURVIVAL, which will help an ordinary individual at least to avoid doing foolish things and running amok in the circumstances of radiation accident. (The Chornobyl NPP website)
It's more powerful than any fiction.
The most powerful book of the year.
A wealth of trustworthy information about the Chornobyl accident.
BRILLIANTLY TOLD! (Mikhail Zhvanetsky, a legendary satiric writer of the USSR and post-USSR)
The events described in the book, with all their funny sides, are the reality. The life, which we had back then and there. (Ivan Tovstogan, Chornobyl veteran)
In the age of phonies and dilettantes, it is with infinite gratitude that I reread this honest and savvy book. (Svitlana Oleshko, the director of "Arabesky” theater, Kharkiv, Ukraine)
It is as if I am present myself in the situations described...
I've read the book in one sitting.There are things to laugh at and contemplate over.
Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances who nevertheless want to live – and live indeed: do their job, communicate, meditate, even laugh.
Those are not merely new books about Chornobyl. Those are a new TYPE of books about Chornobyl and radiation accidents. (Viktor KHAZAN, ex-MP of Ukraine, expert in industrial and environmental safety)
Do read "Live Force” – and discover that you did not know a thing about radiation.
So funny and interesting.
Laughter is healthy reaction to deadly threat, which can be neither seen nor felt or heard. An unhealthy reaction under such circumstances is panic. (Igor Pomerantsev, Radio Liberty)