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KIEV. December 2 (Itar-Tass) – The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant will open for visiting after December 2, head of the Ukrainian State Agency for the Exclusion Zone Management Vladimir Kholosha said.
“The question of tourism is not raised at all. It is the question of the right of citizens, including those of foreign states, to obtain information and to visit the exclusion zone. There will be no tourists there; just visitors – scientists, specialists, students and journalists covering the Chernobyl subject,” he said.
A week ago the Kiev Administrative Court pronounced unlawful the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry’s ordinance regulating visits to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and closed it for visitors.
The ordinance was issued in February 2011 to specify the rules of visits to the Chernobyl exclusive zone by citizens of Ukraine and foreign states. It was coordinated with the Health Ministry, the Nuclear Regulatory Service, the Security Service and the Foreign Ministry. Yet the Prosecutor General’s Office challenged the ordinance at court and demanded to pronounce it illegal.
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant website listed rules of visits to the exclusion zone. Extreme tourism near the damaged power plant started several years before it was permitted. According to Chernobylinterinform, up to 10,000 people visited the Chernobyl exclusion zone in the earlier years. In granting tourist access to the exclusion zone, Ukrainian Emergency Situations Minister Viktor Baloga said in February, “If there is a demand, we should let people in.”
The exclusion zone administration found it difficult to answer the Itar-Tass question about how many tourists visited the place last year.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident happened on April 26, 1986. The U.S. Forbes magazine defined the Chernobyl exclusion zone is one of the most exotic tourist destinations on the planet, together with North Korea and Antarctica.