Chernobyl’s Aftermath in Political Symbols, Monuments and Rituals: Remembering the Disaster in Belarus
In spite of the still on-going health and environmental impact of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, this tragic event occupies only a minor place in the present-day political life of Belarus, the former Soviet republic most affected by the radioactive fallout. To understand the apparent weakness in public memory of the disaster, this paper provides an analysis of several kinds of commemorative events that have been organized by opposition political forces and by state officials since the end of the 1990s, and of the monuments dedicated to the Chernobyl accident in Belarus. It shows how these different forms of memory contributed to the erasure of the specific meaning of the accident by framing the disaster’s past in terms of a tragedy among other national tragedies, and by reducing it merely to a tool to attack political opponents and legitimize one’s own aspirations to power or by suggesting this past should be overcome as soon as possible.
Keywords: Belarus, Chernobyl accident, nuclear disaster, memory politics, political rituals
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