Chernobyl, 20 years later

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Photojournalist Lionel Delevingne is in Kiev, Ukraine for MotherJones.com, covering the commemorations. At the weekend he took a bus trip, laid on by the Ukrainian Ministry of Catastrophes, with a group of journalists and NGO activists, to the site of the disaster. A selection of photos below.

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Entering the 30km “Exclusion Zone” surrounding the disaster site. Entry and exit are strictly controlled by checkpoints like this one. Chernobyl is about 70 miles north of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

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A sign at the same checkpoint warns of the danger of entering the exclusion zone, which is highly contaminated by radioactive material.

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An aerial photo of the Chernobyl site at the Ukrainian Ministry of Catastrophes.

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The bus, carrying journalists and NGO activists supervised by Ukrainian government representatives, heads toward the disaster site in the center of the Exclusion Zone.

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Reactor number 4, where the explosion occurred on April 26, 1986. It has been encased in a concrete “sarcophagus” to contain radioactive material. Unfortunately, the structure was hastily built and is in danger of collapsing.

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Abandoned buildings in the “model town” of Pripyat, designed to house nuclear workers and their families.

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Although hundreds of thousands of people were permanently evacuated from their homes in the region surrounding the plant, some, like these, have insisted on returning, effectively becoming squatters in their former homes. About 38 people are thought to live in the highly contaminated Exclusion Zone.

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Boyar Erdokia and husband of the village of Illincy, in the Exclusion Zone. They insisted on returning to their former home.

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A woman who lives in the Exclusion Zone.

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Feodor Ivanovich, 78, of Illincy Village.

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A Soviet-era helicopter and buses used to evacuate residents at the time of the disaster sit in one of several “graveyards” in the Exclusion Zone. They are highly contaminated.

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A journalist contemplates the disaster site from the bus.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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