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Lukashenko: We can live in Chernobyl-hit regions

NAROVLYA DISTRICT (BelTA) – It is possible to live on the areas affected from the Chernobyl nuclear power accident, and we need to do this, to rehabilitate these territories, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he spoke with residents of Narovlya District on 26 April, BelTA has learned.

“Earlier, when I came here [Chernobyl-hit areas], when I talked about people living here, saying that we suffered a lot, people took it calmly, but mostly agreed. Today, people understand, and so do I, that it is possible to live on this land. Most importantly, we will live here,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

According to him, there is already an understanding, including among the local population, of what to do and how to do in the affected areas. “I came here to see how these lands are revived. To be honest, I have neither positive nor negative feelings about it. I have only one impression that we have been reviving them,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The president added that in summer he plans to visit the affected territories outside the 30km zone around the Chernobyl NPP. “I gave my consent and signed an order on certain works here. For example, we decided long ago that we will process timber here. We have been doing well. Once I made a decision on sawmilling and horse breeding here. You are keeping bees here as well. We can already see that we can breed animals in this protected area (we are not talking about the 30km zone yet). You produce a lot of logging here. The forest is ripe, and it needs to be taken out. Thanks God we process timber to make clean products. You produce a lot of honey here as well. It is an absolutely clean product, no one will buy dirty goods,” the head of state said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, in the near future decisions will be taken on what to produce in the protected area. “ Perhaps we will come up with one or two more areas, or we will focus on the existing three or four. If we focus on three or four areas of our activities, we will support them, and the main Chernobyl funds will be directed to develop the territories here. If we add more areas, we will finance them, too. It is high time we started developing this region actively,” the president stressed.

He also spoke about his proposal to set up multi-profile production associations in Bragin, Narovlya and Khoiniki districts. These can be holding companies specializing, for example, in agriculture, sawmilling, and logging. “People will be employed, will have jobs. This is a perspective. We will think about it. We will make the relevant decision before the end of the year, despite what is happening today to the world economy. It is very difficult to sell products, except for food products. Everybody buys food. No one stops anyone at the border anymore - just bring food, and at higher prices. Over two months, as the minister reported, we will get almost $1 billion from the sales of our products. These are good numbers. We will get some $6 billion in revenue from agriculture by the end of the year. This is very good, except that we will feed our people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Returning to the Chernobyl topic, the head of state stressed that the country will have to deal with the issues different from that it faced some 25-30 years ago. It is necessary to concentrate the funds that are allocated along the Chernobyl line. Aleksandr Lukashenko assured that funds would be available, especially for profitable production projects. The main thing is to rule out the lack of discipline. “If you work, we will always support you” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

He also instructed to revisit the project to build a railway in the south of the country, including to ensure the industrial development of the affected territories, transportation of products. “We will be able to find $120-150 million that we planned for this railway. We need to revisit this issue. We need to calculate everything from the economical and social point of view. The railway is important for people. We will take a comprehensive look at all the projects - from land to the railway.

“I am not saying that we will build a railway or will start building it tomorrow. I would like to take a look at this project once again,” said the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed gratitude to the local residents and promised to respond to emerging issues.