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November 9, 2009 Permalink

Kazakhstan's radioactive legacy

Sixty years ago, the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon, nicknamed "First Lightning", at a test facility on the steppe of northeast Kazakhstan (formerly the Kazakh SSR). The test site, named the Semipalatinsk Polygon, would go on to host 456 atomic explosions over its 40-year existence. Residents in the surrounding area became unwitting guinea pigs, exposed to the aftereffects of the bombs both intentionally and unintentionally. The radiation has silently devastated three generations of people in Kazakhstan - the total number affected is thought to be more than one million - creating health problems ranging from thyroid diseases, cancer, birth defects, deformities, premature aging, and cardiovascular diseases. Life expectancy in the area is seven years less than the national average of Kazakhstan. Photographer Ed Ou has graciously shared with us these photos from the area, with thanks to the excellent Reportage by Getty Images. (25 photos total)

Nurse Larissa Soboleva holds two-year-old Adil Zhilyaev in an orphanage in Semey, Kazakhstan November 24, 2008. Adil was born blind and afflicted with Infantile Cereberal Paralysis (ICP) and hydrocephalia, as a result of his mothers exposure to radiation during years of Soviet weapons testing during the Cold War. He was abandoned by his parents, and is now cared for in an orphanage. (Ed Ou/Reportage by Getty Images)
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237 comments so far...


Posted by Luciano Stabel November 9, 09 12:39 PM


Posted by Fredlarroseur November 9, 09 12:44 PM

Man oh man. Such long lasting destruction.
It really makes the American, French Israeli and British nuclear programs look completely responsible and ethical by comparison.

Forward with (y)our nuclear future.

Posted by Samo November 9, 09 12:49 PM

Not the way I wanted to start my week :(

Posted by Kyle November 9, 09 12:57 PM

I have no doubt that there is no god.
But I wish there was, as he or she would never, ever allow this type of suffering.
And if there was a god at least those responsible for these horrifying atrocities (not just this particular example but all atrocities) would be punished.
It disturbs me that they will never feel the pain themselves.

Posted by Stephen Walker November 9, 09 01:00 PM

Horrifying, having in mind, furthermore, that all of this could have been prevented, if only the life and well-being of common people didn't have a value of zero in the former Soviet Union...

Posted by Ivanchev November 9, 09 01:02 PM

Sad, but this is reality

Posted by Nistor Mihaela November 9, 09 01:04 PM

Atomenergie wie wir sie jetzt nutzen, resultiert aus diesen kriegerischen Anfängen. Dieselbe Problematik haben die USA ebenfalls (Utah) vielleicht nicht ganz in dieser Dimension... Es betrifft die ganze Welt.

Einfach schrecklich und wir sollten das ganze Atom Zeug´s im schnellsten Weg beenden. Wohin nur mit dem ganzen Atom Müll - der strahlt die nächsten 100.000 Jahre...

Und wir überlegen weitere Atomkraftwerke zu bauen, ohne mit der Endlagerungsproblematik nur einigermassen zu wissen, wie wir die Bevölkerung zuverlässig vor diesen Auswirkungen schützen zu können!

Posted by Dietmar Walser November 9, 09 01:04 PM

I bet the Russians didn't give them any compensation for what they've done to a whole generation of Kazakhs. Many of them are too poor to afford any special treatment for their disabled children...

Posted by TBerlinK November 9, 09 01:06 PM

It's a shame that Russia is still not really facing it's atomic legacy ... we must get rid of all Nukes ...

Posted by orangeguru November 9, 09 01:07 PM

c'mon folks - where are all the oohs and aahs?! the story and the pictures are amazing. in fact so amazing that everybody suddenly shut up. this time it is like a wake up call - wake up from the glossy and glamorous Picture world, where even WAR is made to look almost nice and "cool". thank you for sharing!

brgds from Lithuania

Posted by augis November 9, 09 01:08 PM


Posted by El Basto November 9, 09 01:09 PM

Reminds me of the images of Chornobyl victims in Belarus and northern Ukraine. Tragic, but the epidemiologist in me wonders how causative the radiation exposure itself was to the town's myriad health problems. In the case of Chornobyl, there were so many other factors (economic decline, "radiophobia," etc.) contributing as well. It's hard to tease out the exact relationships in these cases, since so little baseline data exists in cases of disaster.

Posted by Sarah Wallace November 9, 09 01:10 PM

Shocking and powerful photos, but less THAN, not less THEN.

Posted by Michael Houghton November 9, 09 01:11 PM

And I just can't understand why nothing could stop mad people from destroying ourselves...

Posted by zemmin November 9, 09 01:11 PM

Thank you for these pictures.

Posted by Ben November 9, 09 01:14 PM

More of the communist legacy.

Posted by Colin November 9, 09 01:19 PM

puh, can't find words!

Posted by Frank November 9, 09 01:20 PM

Typo fixed, thanks.

Posted by alan taylor November 9, 09 01:20 PM

Thank God for the fall of the berlin wall. Too bad it couldn't have happened earlier.

Posted by Rj November 9, 09 01:22 PM

very sad.

Posted by fanofBP November 9, 09 01:22 PM

So utterly heartbreaking.

Posted by Alastair Smith November 9, 09 01:25 PM

amazing to see how people cope with that situation, life goes on...

Posted by Fred Cox November 9, 09 01:25 PM

We have to put down every f*ckin nuclear power station in the world. But industry and politics are not interested in humans, they are only interested in money.

Posted by SaveTheWorldBeforeItsTooLate November 9, 09 01:26 PM

Your equivalence of Soviet nuclear testing and modern nuclear energy is appalling and baseless.Kazakhstan and Utah were the sites of bomb testing, not energy production. Your blanket condemnation of all nuclear energy ignores the similar threats posed by its ready alternatives: fossil fuels. Exaggerating the threats of nuclear energy only hides the perils of coal and gas.

Posted by Paul November 9, 09 01:29 PM

commenting on number 5 comment: yes there is GOD but he left us the choice to do good or bad, it is an exam for everyone. you will either succeed or fail. everyone is responsible for his actions and those who suffered from bad actions committed others will be rewarded at the end with much much better life than the one we are living. look around you and see how beautiful God's creation, those that was not touched by man, and you will know that there is a GOD who created this

Posted by Mohamed November 9, 09 01:33 PM

I am so ashamed to be russian.

Posted by polly November 9, 09 01:33 PM

Yet again, the ugly side of a super power rears it head. Only years later do we find out how badly they treated their own people, and how little respect for life they had. If this is what you get when you are classing yourself as a creator, then i would rather live a more simplistic lifestyle.

Posted by Darren November 9, 09 01:35 PM

did i see "mother-in-law" mentioned in #14? bless the girl who has a good heart.

Posted by Gary November 9, 09 01:35 PM

My heart feels heavy with sorrow, their suffering is incomparable to most of us. Lets hope humanity isn't destined to repeat mistakes.

Posted by Austin November 9, 09 01:41 PM

One thing that stands out for me as I look at these pictures is the tremendous love of the parents who continue to care for their severely disabled children. #6 is particularly good; the mother glows as she kisses her daughter's cheek. Sad, though, to hear of abandonment. The child in the first picture; though the nurse clearly cares deeply for him, it is a shame that his parents could not, and it was a long while after I looked at that picture before I could scroll down to look at the rest of them.

Posted by Calli Arcale November 9, 09 01:46 PM

Thanks: is right remember and not repeat the mistakes ...

Posted by amatamari November 9, 09 01:51 PM

Wake up call!!!

Posted by Anne November 9, 09 01:54 PM

Now I more fully understand the need to stop certain countries from developing nuclear weapons. There are too many governments that don't care about their own people or neighbors. This then leads to suffering for everyone. Very very sad.

Posted by Matt November 9, 09 02:02 PM

Beyond sad, this is unfathomably horrific.

Posted by 3rdstone November 9, 09 02:04 PM

I hope this catastrophe never happens again. I would like to see a documentary on this issue.

Posted by Ed November 9, 09 02:05 PM

That´s what human race can do, sometimes i think how it´s possible something like that happened, unbelievable how the governments play with us like rats. This is the consequence of our loyalty to money and power.

Posted by Rafael November 9, 09 02:07 PM

""I am so ashamed to be russian.""

Don't be. At least the people we see here are obviously cared for and with people who love them.

Posted by Lesley G November 9, 09 02:09 PM

Stephen Walker, you have no doubt there is no God, but you invoke him anyway in your comment.

He does exist and He sees the suffering and He provides unseen comfort. Do you see the deformed man with his mother at his side? Everything will be accounted for.

Posted by Cork November 9, 09 02:09 PM

@ 3

Wait to see the photos after we have used our bombs....
......and if we don' t use them, I 'm not sure that it is responsible to make them.
Congratulation for your ethical comparisons. So Guantanamo is not worse than ..(I stop for avoiding the Goldwin point). Beware of such syllogism: it is bad, but since there is worse it is not .....

Posted by Uppereast November 9, 09 02:12 PM

While I completely agree that the the legacy of nuclear testing is horrendous, comments like 24 completely misrepresents the suffering of these individuals. Nuclear power did not cause their pain. If anything the environmental and human costs of other modes of energy-namely coal-are FAR greater than nuclear. Don't try to appropriate the suffering of others' for your own misguided agenda. Shame on you.

Posted by Tren November 9, 09 02:15 PM

Thanks for the photos, and the info.

Posted by Josep November 9, 09 02:21 PM

My thoughts exactly. What would I do in that situation...

Posted by John Doe November 9, 09 02:25 PM

Shameful that so few people inflict so much suffering on so many people throughout the world!

It would be nice to see native Russians like Mr Abrmovich (Chelsea FC Owner) helping with his millions as well as funding huge egos of football players.

The families and their helpers in some of these sobering photos are the real stars of this world!

Posted by Grant November 9, 09 02:27 PM

God is in those person who love and take care of them.

Posted by Alexandru November 9, 09 02:33 PM

That is too horrible for words. How in the world did Kazakhstan's government justify performing hundreds of nuclear explosion tests in proximate close to civilization? How can any single one of them sleep at night? This is the first time i've read about this and have no background, but did anybody get punished for this?

Posted by Jeff November 9, 09 02:40 PM

that's one example only of what human beings can do to others. so we just pretend it's alright, that history is really about past and we keep going... destroying ourselves. after all, how could we live remembering this?

Posted by acacia November 9, 09 02:44 PM

#39, Cork, I agree. No one is innocent. We are all guilty be degrees, and the good we experience is gracious. All shall be accounted for.

Posted by Michael Spotts November 9, 09 02:44 PM

"I am so ashamed to be Russian."

We all have a common ancestor that crawled out of the primordial ooze. We are one people. If it wasn't for the caring individuals depicted in these photos, I would say that I am ashamed to be human. They redeem my fragile faith in our species.

The milk of human kindness staring down and defeating the infamy of human stupidity.

Posted by 3rdstone November 9, 09 02:56 PM

Can something be considered suffering when that is all you have ever known? If you are born that way, it takes somebody else to tell you it's not right.

The people who care for others in whatever capacity are the ones I admire the most.

Truly moving, and appreciated. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Erik November 9, 09 03:01 PM

These photos are a tribute to the absolute love between parents and children, friends and family. They are a look at the good that can come from wihtin the human soul. It is as shame that there isn't something that can be done to reverse the effects that have lead to such a calamity for these families and people.

Unfortunately, these photos are also an example of the horrible, destructive, and utterly despicable consequences of the decisions from that same, but corrupted soul, from within people who deserve a similar fate. The people that were behind these decisions are the ones that deserve to be prisoners trapped inside their minds and bodies.

The people who have posted they are ashamed, should not be ashamed to be Russian. That would be like me being ashamed of being American because of slavery in the 1800's or the Indian Wars. Unless you were a part of the reason this tragedy unfloded, you can't take it upon yourself to feel a responsiblity for something out your control. Your responsibility lies within you to prevent your generation, your children's genreations and the generations after, from allowing this to occur again. You can only change the present and the future for the better of mankind. The events that caused this are long passed. You can feel sympathy for these folks, but you would serve them better by giving them support and love.

Posted by Flogging Murphy November 9, 09 03:03 PM

aww come on!
The American and French Nukes damages are just somewhere else. In the micronesian Sea and the whole region (Marshall Islands). No doubt that no one really wants nuclear weapons instead of politicians who want to use them.
War (even Cold) sucks big time

Posted by Eduard November 9, 09 03:06 PM

Thanks for such true part of life.

Posted by willy November 9, 09 03:09 PM

Those are really brave, brave people.

On a side note, today I was expecting TBP to post a collection of photos celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall. Maybe we can expect that later this week?


Posted by Federico November 9, 09 03:17 PM

@41: Do you remember Tschernobyl?

All Kinds of Nuclear Energy/Weapons = Evil

Nuclear Energy is the biggest Danger for mankind ever!
All Nuclear Power Plants have to been taken down.

Posted by Peter November 9, 09 03:18 PM

too bad the effect would last for generations....People who have caused this should take action in helping this folks!

Posted by elmo November 9, 09 03:26 PM

Never Forget this kind of injury aren't the only fact of URSS. Every country which have the nuclear weapon have tested it regardless of the environmental impact.

Posted by Armas November 9, 09 03:31 PM

Terrible to say... But it's better for them to be blind... :(

Innocent always pay the bill... Sad... :/

Posted by Wedge November 9, 09 03:35 PM

i'm chocked... my "coeur de maman" is crying when i see all that children suffering of the attrocity made by the politics... fu**ing world !!!

Posted by Tinote November 9, 09 03:47 PM


Posted by Tom November 9, 09 04:03 PM

Szok, to po³a o postê do nieba, czym s¹ moje troski, czym ??

Posted by S³awek Sielski POLAND November 9, 09 04:08 PM

Just to inject a note of sanity to the emo-fest going on here, but it is impossible to say that the fallout from the nuclear tests "caused" any of the deformities shown. Statistically, there is an increased chance of genetic damage to fetuses in a given area, but not a single one can be put down to the nuclear material.

Posted by Pedant November 9, 09 04:12 PM

Michael Spotts wrote: "No one is innocent."

So you're saying that the boy who was exposed to radiation *while he was still in the womb* actually deserved it? The idea that these people deserve what has happened to them, the idea that it is okay because they will be rewarded after they're dead is just sickening. It cheapens their plight, and it releases those who have caused these atrocities from their guilt.

What has happened to these people is horrible, and not a single person deserved this in any way. No god will help these people, only humans can. No god will prevent this from happening in the future, only humans can. Instead of pretending that these people will be rewarded after they're dead, we need to help them now that they're alive, and make sure something like this won't happen again.

Posted by Lukas November 9, 09 04:12 PM

@Peter - You wouldn't be saying that if you actually knew how and why Chernobyl happened and what has happened since. What would you expect out of a badly run and badly designed plant?

Posted by Cody November 9, 09 04:31 PM

I'm very sad for all those kids and people affected by this human negligence.

Posted by Leonel November 9, 09 04:39 PM

Sad. Heartbreaking. But then #23 is so joyful.

Posted by mileslarboy November 9, 09 04:44 PM

shame on the first lightening

Posted by Amin Torabi November 9, 09 04:44 PM

I would love to see a post about hero's. There is so much negative to find in the world, but there are also so many hero's out there that can inspire us; so much good that can be found and shared if we care to look. Good should not always be overshadowed by the evil the press seems to think we crave. Sometimes it's just too much.

Posted by Julia November 9, 09 04:47 PM

To all blaming "soviets": don't forget about the dioxin US legacy in Viet Nam ( and "nuclear fever" in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (

USA, USSR, GB...all were wrong

Posted by sb November 9, 09 04:47 PM

@46. Jeff, do you seriously think it was Kazakhstan government that did that?! If you read the paragraph, it says "Soviet Union detoned" aka Kremlin. I was born in Kazakhstan in late 70s and I still remember my father being jailed when they protested the polygon operation in 80s, my brothers being expelled from college when they protested Soviet rule in 1986 and my 19-year old uncle being sent to Afghanistan in 1987 and coming back in coffin 2 months later. First thing that happened after Kazakhstan gained the independence was dismantling those nukes and closing the polygon in 1990s. Unfortunately, the effects of those tests are still seen there and unlike in US or anywhere else, there are no courts set up to sue the old regime or seek the compensation.

Posted by saken November 9, 09 04:52 PM

@55 - coal plants readily emit radiation from admixtures in coal, about 100x more than a nuclear plant is allowed is rather normal.

Nuclear energy is the safest form of energy known to humans.

Posted by Loiz November 9, 09 05:00 PM

Now mr. Putin says that USSR's disintegration was most sad event of 20th century and try to restore former empire, preferably in old borders. He must be stopped until it's too late. But "old democracies" play with russian bear because they fear to lose billion dollars of profit on russian gas. So when will be the next Munich Betrayal or Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?

Posted by zergius November 9, 09 05:10 PM

wow... very sad, poeple who think they have it tough should see this.

Posted by Roxy November 9, 09 05:17 PM

What about the, not one, but TWO weapons that USA throw to TWO cities full of inocent people on purpose? one thing is sure, reading the comments above it seems that "it never happened". But of course, Russia is evil...

Posted by Realistic Man November 9, 09 05:41 PM

En el Mundo hay dos cosas infinitas: el universo y la estupidez humana... de la primera no estamos seguros, de la segunda... estas fotos no hacen mas que corroborar la evidencia.
Triste (sad, so sad).

Posted by Joan Carles November 9, 09 05:44 PM

lol @62. What are you, a Republican? How big do you think the statistical margin of you getting sick increases if you live in the proximity of nuclear explosion site? Or how much data do you need to clearly state that radiation is bad for your health and that danger is magnified to fetuses? Nagasaki/Hiroshima, Chernobyl? No, doesn't ring a bell? It is impossible to say what temperature is on Sun, but the observation and data poinst allow us to estimate it. So dude, use your head and stop making idiotic suggestions.

Posted by Dolohoff November 9, 09 05:46 PM

Homo Sapiens ???

Posted by Lluís November 9, 09 05:52 PM

Very sad at what has happened...

Posted by Shashikiran Srinivasa November 9, 09 06:06 PM

Thank you for posting these photos.

Posted by AN November 9, 09 06:09 PM

It's encouraging to see the unconditional love some of the parents have for their children. It's encouraging to know God's unconditional love for everyone.

Posted by Ryan November 9, 09 06:16 PM

unbelievable and so many respect for the people caring.

Posted by tom November 9, 09 06:22 PM

heart breaking...

Posted by Michael November 9, 09 06:33 PM

Once again we've proven that the most dangerous creature in this planet is the human species...

Posted by Ting November 9, 09 07:24 PM

outrageous, so sad....

Posted by Luis Sánchez November 9, 09 07:43 PM

Thats so sad, heartbreaking:)

Posted by Colleen November 9, 09 07:58 PM

We all take so much for granted. We have so much and complain that it is not enough. People like these and others around the world have so little and suffer so often in is heart wrenching.

Posted by Chris November 9, 09 08:08 PM

Russia does it again. How can a country of such great people have such a long line of corrupt and souless leaders?

Posted by Nate November 9, 09 08:14 PM

Great photos. But: congenital birth defects occur everywhere in pretty predictable proportions. The UN Chernobyl Forum studied the populations affected by fallout extensively and found NO increased rate of birth defects. (Go to, check "Chernobyl," then "Health Effects," scroll down to 2.4.) Ditto from the exhaustive studies following Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The harm to fetuses following Chernobyl was from the thousands of abortions that women in the region had out of fear.

As for Kazakhstan, good comparative epidemiology should show if the region really has an unusual rate of birth defects, and it should examine the local incidence of known causes of birth defects such as alcoholism.

Posted by Stewart Brand November 9, 09 08:27 PM

It's time to stop pointing fingers and start doing something about it. It's easy to whine and complain. It's not so easy to make a difference - like the parents of these children who take care of them with so much love. It's not easy for them, no matter how good-hearted they are. It takes a toll on them. We all need to support them as well as their children.

When you see an opportunity to do something, do it! Even if you have to give up a Starbucks or a beer or a movie to pay for it.

Posted by Eric November 9, 09 09:38 PM

Cork, at post .39 said everything!

God exists... the problem starts with what His sons do with their free will...

Posted by Leo November 9, 09 09:40 PM

I look at pictures like this and I see people blaming Russia or whatever country was doing this tests. But a lot of countries do this, war and war technology is the most evil, unfair and awful thing that has ever happened to this world. Amazing that knowing all we know now, we still fight wars like we don't know better. And we all stand an watch young men getting killed for no good reason. This is just a big FAIL on all of us, as the heartless society we became.

Posted by Lu November 9, 09 09:48 PM

The human the cause of its own extinction :(

Posted by Richard November 9, 09 09:49 PM

#88 is an idiot. I feel such respect for the caregivers of the children. I wish the government would take some responsibility for these people and help them. They should at least give them enough financial aide to provide necessary things like diapers, physical therapy and food for the young adults and children. God bless them all.
God did not cause this to happen. Man caused this to happen. If God controlled everything we would be robots and unable to make choices of good or evil. The choice to do evil is not caused by or controlled by God. Evil is controlled by greed.

Posted by Doris November 9, 09 09:50 PM

this is really hard to see, all because of the radiation all these people have been affected. so sad :(

Posted by Morgan Stewart November 9, 09 10:05 PM

saddend by this....

but heart felt hope seeing the love towards each other.....

Posted by Harry November 9, 09 10:17 PM

Terrible..Lupus est homo homini,non homo,quom qualis sit non novit !

Posted by Marja-Terttu Koponen November 9, 09 10:25 PM

i feel sorry for those folks

Posted by Anonymous November 9, 09 11:15 PM

It is so sad to see these pictures.
These pictures reveal the evil nature of mankind which can lead to our own extinction.

Posted by Anonymous November 9, 09 11:57 PM

Nuclear power stations are most efficient and can't be compared to bomb testing facilities. If one still does compare these two things one has to keep in mind that when you build power station you must be extra careful and not cheap on prevention measures for safety reasons. There are some brilliant designs of nuke power station but they are expensive. So what? Nothing is more expensive than human life.
After the end of Soviet Union Russia proclaimed taking legacy of the collapsed monster including responsibilities for the past. However, it seems Russia does not follow its own promises toward ordinary people of any ethnicity in modern Kazakhstan - Russians, Kazakhs, Belorussians, Ukrainians, etc. What only matters to Russian rulers is their autocracy driven by dreams about the past superpower like Soviet Union or even Russian Empire. They don't care even about their own people putting pride before humanity.

Posted by Simon November 10, 09 12:03 AM

when the f*ck will governments realize the dangers of nuclear testing??!!! these people, and their generations live in a vegetative state with a mind in constant turmoil. can the governments even imagine what it feels like to be in their shoes??

Posted by kunal November 10, 09 12:15 AM

sad and depressing....:((

Posted by REEMA November 10, 09 12:52 AM

at least in the west we had the decency to do our testing on small (recently uninhabited) islands, obliterating them completely so no one would make the mistake of returning to a now radiated land.

at least all this testing was for a good cause.

Posted by Ibin Nibi November 10, 09 12:54 AM

Fantastic pictures by Ed Ou: photojournalism is obviously still alive, and this is quite encouraging

Posted by Antoine November 10, 09 12:54 AM

We are offended and hurt by this, but we are nowhere near feeling how God must be offended and hurt by this. Despite all the horror, He sent His son Jesus to die for EVERYONE. And there is a safe wonderful home being prepared in heaven for these dear people.

Posted by Joey November 10, 09 12:59 AM

My god - these photographs are absolutely astounding. Alan, this is an incredible collection. I am moved beyond words by the tenderness and intimacy of Mr Ou's images.

Posted by erika November 10, 09 01:03 AM

Too sad,,, photo #1 makes me going to cry~!

Posted by Shawn November 10, 09 01:09 AM

Poor childrens.. so sad :(

Posted by Karlitta November 10, 09 01:10 AM

wow that was great I was almost tearing up. they all seem pretty happy though. the guy with the face has his music and the other guy has the web. it could be worse. I'm in india right now so these guys are on easy street.

Posted by Robert James Peters November 10, 09 01:15 AM

The fictional entity that some people call god does not exist.

Posted by Djinn November 10, 09 01:34 AM

I've heard of effects, but nothing as horrific as this. What did all that testing ever achieve?

Posted by luigi cappel November 10, 09 01:36 AM

Ed my friend! I see you made it to the Big Picture! You are truly stepping up your skills.

Posted by Henry November 10, 09 02:00 AM

This is horrifying. The depths of human depravity never cease to amaze me. Thank you for the pictures though - It is testament to the human capacity for love and acceptance. The love that these people have for their children absolutely shines through them.

Posted by Graeme November 10, 09 02:12 AM

Smutne, ludzie ludziom zgotowali ten los.

Posted by C80 November 10, 09 02:24 AM

Humanity blows, sometimes.

Posted by Bro November 10, 09 03:10 AM

thats why i hate soviets ... they had 0 value for simple people .
from LV

Posted by marss November 10, 09 03:27 AM

Endlich~~aufklärende bilder ~kann ja kaum noch schlimmer kommen.
Göttin sei Dank,dass ich in Europa lebe. ^
Seit langem ist ein Verbot sämtlicher nuklearer Aktivitäten auf dem Planet und im Welltall überfällig.
Die Auswirkungen sind überall zu spüren.

Posted by P.Bockstahler November 10, 09 03:58 AM

The Power of Love overcomes the love for power once more. When, we people finally realize it?

Posted by Νομίζω November 10, 09 04:13 AM

Very sad what can happen when nuclear power is treated irresponsibly.

This is why we have the IAEA and NRC

Posted by nuc eng ash November 10, 09 04:14 AM

It's demoralizing how so many people here are more concerned with using these tragedies to further their own political views, religious superstitions, and misguided ideals. All I know is that I'm not strong enough to endure what these people go through every day.

Posted by Derek November 10, 09 04:21 AM

Oh my god... These pictures are beautiful in a sad, horrifying way...

Posted by Marc Jacobs November 10, 09 05:07 AM

Don't be under any illusions that Britain was any better. They performed hundreds of tests at Maralinga in Australia which included allowing exposure to Aboriginals as well as deliberately making servicemen stand at intervals from the inital explosions as well as running and crawling through the debris only days later. Only AU$108 million was spent on the clean up at the turn of the century although the land is still uninhabitable. Our governments were only serious about covering up the damage and not the welfare of the people.

Posted by Greg November 10, 09 05:13 AM

Praying the god to see the day of N-weapon free Earth....
Not to mention, the Biological weapons are more destructive than Nuclear weapons...because, they are never used or tested... no one knows its impact. May be...even the creators of them too dont know their scale of destruction !

Posted by Chandra November 10, 09 05:14 AM

This is wat the need for power does...

Very sad and let me worried...

Posted by To Neves November 10, 09 05:35 AM

Oh, again the Big Bad Soviet Union. What about Hiroshima and what about the American nuclear tests in Nevada and the children of the soldiers used in those tests or maybe this is not important as it was done for "world safety reasons". Yeah right!

Posted by Open your eyes November 10, 09 05:40 AM

Also ganz im Ernst, es ist ziemlich erscheckend wenn man sieht was daraus resultiert wenn die Atomkraft einfach wahrlos eingesetzt wird, aber auf der anderen Seite bin ich total für Atomkraft wenn sie so wie in Deutschland in sicheren Kraftwerken zur Stromgewinnung genutzt wird. Jedenfalls so lange bis es andere Alternative gibt die sich auch finanziel rentieren. Erst dann sollte man darüber nachdenken Atomkraft abzuschaffen. Was wollt ihr denn bitte machen wenn wir alle Atomkraftwerke in Deutschland abschalten? Woher beziehen wir unsere Energie? Wollen wir wirklich riskieren das irgendwelche Länder AKWs bauen die nicht ansatzweiße die Sicherheit unserer deutschen erreichen um unseren Strombedarf zu decken und somit zu riskieren das es dort Zwischenfälle gibt? Ich denke dochmal nicht.

Posted by Andreas November 10, 09 06:23 AM

sad :(

Posted by Sree November 10, 09 06:28 AM

What sort of a manner is this ? Huh.
Today we all are living as if though we are not going to die forever.
But the matter of fact is that we all are walking dead bodies living in Hell.
O Lord save tha man Kind

Posted by rakee November 10, 09 06:37 AM

So sad, nothing else to say. Can't the human race just get it together and stop this kind of tragedy? I know it sounds utopian but we are capable of it, look at what we are able to do. Why don't we? I don't understand.

Posted by Richard November 10, 09 06:38 AM


Posted by A B November 10, 09 07:06 AM

And this is why everybody has to support Obama when he says he wants a world without nuclear weapons. Praying doesn´t help. Action is required.

@Andreas, typisches von der Wand bis zur Tapete denken. Kein Mensch weiss was er mit dem nuklearen Abfall machen soll. Unter der Erde verstecken ist keine Lösung.

Posted by Tom November 10, 09 07:29 AM

Strange things are happening in #16.
Nice leather jacket in #13

Posted by Big Willy November 10, 09 08:19 AM

#10 - #14 is so awfully sad. Awful what war and governments do to their people.

Posted by Carrie November 10, 09 09:12 AM

"It's encouraging to know God's unconditional love for everyone."

By having a child born blind and with Infantile Cereberal Paralysis (ICP) and hydrocephalia? I'll pass on that brand of love, thanks.

Posted by Scott November 10, 09 09:34 AM

This is a very tragic legacy. But please don’t think that the harm to humans (and the environment) illustrated by this photo essay is limited only to radioactive nuclear fallout and waste. We collectively continue to pollute the world-wide environment with a plethora of chemical and biochemical toxins, which can also result in similar harmful effects on all organisms, including humans. When will we all learn (industry, governments and citizens) that we only have one planet earth and we all need to treat it with the utmost respect?

Posted by GP November 10, 09 10:16 AM

This reminds me of Valeri Legasov and the memorable statement he made after the Chernobyl disaster: "Technology has to be protected form Man".

Posted by 0blivi0n November 10, 09 10:21 AM

such sad pics,these are the innocent victims of a deadly tragedy that started decades ago.why did they have to do this?these people don't seem to think,they fight the war, maybe for a few years,but their damaging effects stay on.the nuclear war is the worst way to destroy people,you don't just kill someone,but kill countless innocents,is it these people's fault that they were born in that place,just think,it could be us too.we should thank God for every luxury that we enjoy and also help these people in whatever small way we can.maybe the government can do something like shift all the people from radiation prone areas.we have to help them somehow.

Posted by all this for what? November 10, 09 10:23 AM

Life is really a struggle for those living in the town which was a playground for Nuclear Warlords of former U.S.S.R... i pity and imagine how intense was the drive for winning the cold war that it adversely affected generations of innocent and common peoples of Kazakhstan.

but at times of hardship i also find smiles and intense dedication to help their people.

May God Relieve their Pain and shower them with happiness and blessings

Posted by Anonymous November 10, 09 10:42 AM

I was very shocked and depressed when I saw this pictures.
The little Byo named Adil who is blind and and with Infantile Cereberal Paralysis (ICP) was shaking my heart so much that I donated for him. If someone wants to donate some money to this victims you can go to this site
I did it because this humans need it. Just think twice: we are living free, rich and not disabled.They are poor and they will never see the world like you are able to see it......

Posted by Dounya November 10, 09 11:15 AM

thank you for these amazing pictures, there are pieces of truth and life, so sad but true, it is important to know what happened, to let us be conscoius of what the human beign can do. Im always astonished with this site.

Posted by victoria November 10, 09 11:34 AM

Who made this?
The thing that should not be.

It's a crime against humanity. Innocents suffering. Shame.

Posted by António Duarte November 10, 09 11:43 AM

All governments are evil, they are about power and control, the general populace is their guinea pigs, if caught they apologize profusely and start passing the blame among themselves until a believable lie can be found, that the ignorant and undereducated are pacified then they continue their madness in a more covert manner...

Posted by Mikel November 10, 09 12:03 PM

Hi from Spain,amazing work and amazing info,
Then do they want nuclear energy? in Spain even nuclear power plants stay in functioning and already many of Ascó 1 in tarragona where on April 4 44 pupils of 4th of primary and many are resident in the city where I reside and three teachers of the school visited the nuclear power plant and on the following day Greenpeace it denounced that in November there had gone out a few metallic particles of activation of the ventilation of the building of fuel. Although the Nuclear Security Council (CSN) classified the level fact under the international scale of INES, who comes to 7, in case of serious accident, on the 14th 2 re-classified it under level, and he told that the radiological impact derived from the new information, in spite of there was the spilled one it was superior to the initial, it kept on being «very little significant.....
For me is not it a little significant since apart from not warning to the school for the above mentioned accident and putting the life in danger of these children the nuclear one says that it was not for so much? what would have happened if these children "had been contaminated?" who would be guilty? govern of spain, nuclear..?, I believe that it is demonstrated that the renewable energies are much more effective that the nucleares. we hope that they should not turn to see these impactantes images.

Posted by david aparicio November 10, 09 12:49 PM

really saddening. these pics show how some politically ambitious men destroyed the beatiful earth created by God. All for wat? my tribute to the parents and the caretakers of those kids. they teach us to be courageous in times of pain and anguish. my prayers for u..............................

Posted by Anonymous November 10, 09 12:50 PM

shame of governments in all countries! We are authentic puppets!

Posted by is. November 10, 09 01:07 PM

This is too brutal... I have no words.

Posted by airwhale November 10, 09 01:55 PM

people can say this is wrong all you want
and i totally agree with you, that such powers should be used as a war weapon, and also deform innocents from birth, not eve giving them a chance. but those of you who are American or English
who would rule us if we did not have nuclear weapons?
wjhat freedom would we have?
what freedom would other developing countries have?
what freedom would kazakstan have?
to have peace, you must be ready for war. The only way to solve this problem is to wipe out humanity. And no one wants to do that.

Posted by Tom Stevens aged 15 November 10, 09 02:34 PM

Incredibly moving and sad.

Posted by Anonymous November 10, 09 02:34 PM

You can't really establish a causal relationship between those cases and radiation exposure, I'm sorry. Just because someone lives there doesn't mean their child got palsy due to radiation exposure. I'm not saying none of them did, but saying "he's got hydrocephalia because of radiation exposure" is a blatant lie.

And before US folks get all self-righteous, I'd ask them to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Posted by DMB November 10, 09 02:40 PM

These pictures made me physically cry surely this is very wrong and the perpetrators should have been made to pay for this very serious crime treating these poor people as guinea pigs. Who knows even nowadays what
trials and experiments are happening behind closed doors as we live and breathe.

Posted by Caroline Steggles November 10, 09 03:16 PM

This is horrible, nothing can excuse this. But on the other hand why are you so surprised? It was Russia, it is Russia and it always be Russia. Life of a human being has less then 0 value there, rules, if any, are just for fun. I don't trust them even if they say "good morning".

Posted by pavel v. November 10, 09 03:30 PM

The first time PC pictures made me cry.
Thank God for my 3 healthy children.
Once again many of us are reminded, that we should not complain about our lives.
These people have real issues and no silver lining whatsoever in sight.
#22 holds some hope, though.

Posted by Anne K. November 10, 09 03:49 PM

I just realised smoking is cool.

The deformed man smoking a cigarrette looks cool in that photo.

Posted by replay November 10, 09 04:00 PM

@148 - "And before US folks get all self-righteous, I'd ask them to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

You know, it's worth noting that we intentionally bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki for military reasons. If Japan hadn't, say, bombed the US in an unprovoked strike at Pearl Harbor, then we wouldn't have gone to war. Had they surrendered at any point, including after the first atomic bomb, then they could have greatly reduced deaths. The alternative was a full-scale invasion of Japan, which would have resulted in far more deaths, and far more American deaths. Japan was horribly guilty for what they did to the Chinese, and the war was ready to end as soon as they surrendered. It took a massive bombing of two of their cities (which were significant military installations) before they realized it.

On the flipside, the USSR was irradiating its own people.

Posted by Chris November 10, 09 04:15 PM

It's just horrible. I'm glad these photos came to the Czech republic a I hope they will fly all over the world to show, such a beasts the russian were and are!

Posted by Erik November 10, 09 04:53 PM

The era of Stalinism was replaced by new era of Putinism ! Soviet Union or there any difference ? The mentality of the russians has not changed. Even the new generation is being brought up the same way as their parents and grandparents were. Values of russians are very different from the values of europeans, americans, asians or africans. Life of people means nothing to them.

Posted by Anderson November 10, 09 05:27 PM

Very sad and heart breaking. They are great parents.

Posted by Anonymous November 10, 09 05:32 PM

People brought this lot to other people! We should always remember that being a human is more important than belonging to some nationality, or religion. We're all the same and we should forget all the conflicts!

Posted by Maciek November 10, 09 06:01 PM

These pictures show once again, that atomic weapons and atomic tests are irresponsible.

But I have to correct some things here:
@Chris : you are a prime example of history US-style.
1.) Japan didn't bomb the US in an "unprovoked" strike at Pearl Harbor. The US had been provoking Japan for month (by cutting of resources for example) until Japan had no other choice given its politics at the time. When Japan did finally strike (which the US was prepared for), the US finally had a blank cheque for the war in Asia. Like Coulmas wrote: "Pearl Harbor stood and still stands in the USA for infamous treachery and wicked aggression of another race and became the code for the moral legitimacy of all American acts of war." Especially Hein, Cumings and Selden showed in their works, how important this was for the US foreign policy. Because now the US could finally get involved, had the opportunity to create the moral highground and had the possibility to portray the Japanese a an inferior, wicked, monkeylike race against which every means is justified.
2.) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not bombed solely for military reason. Read the works of historians like Bernstein, Dower, Alperovitz, Selden etc. and not just your school's politically brainwashed history textbook.
3.) That a full-scale invasion of Japan would have cost far more (American) lives is a postwar myth created 1945-1947 by Truman, Conant, and Ayers, especially through Stimsons famous article "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb" in Harper’s Magazins issue from February 1947. It has been disproven countless times by scholars of history, political science and Japanese studies. Just because a big part of the American populus doesn't want to accept that, doesn't make a myth the truth.
4.) That the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone persuaded the Japanese elite to surrender is also a postwar myth to be found in countless American books about the end of WWII. Again, read Bernstein ("The atomic bomb, The critical issues", "The Atomic Bomb and American Foreign Policy, 1941-1945. An Historiographical Controversy", "A Postwar Myth. 500.000 U.S. Lives Saved", "Marshall, Truman, and the Decision to Drop the Bomb", "Understanding the Atomic Bomb and the Japanese Surrender: Missed Opportunities, Little-Known Near Disasters, and Modern Memory"), Sherwin ("A world destroyed. Hiroshima and its legacies", "Hiroshima as Politics and History"), Walker ("Prompt and Utter Destruction. Truman and the use of atomic bombs against Japan", "History, Collective Memory, and the Decision to Use the Bomb", "Recent Literature on Truman’s Atomic Bomb Decision. A Search for Middle Ground"), Dower ("Embracing Defeat. Japan in the wake of World War II", "War without mercy. Race and power in the Pacific War"), Cumings ("Parallax Visions. Making sense of American-East Asian relations at the end of the century"), Frank ("Downfall. The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire"), Hasegawa ("Racing the enemy. Stalin, Truman, and the surrender of Japan"), Bix ("Japan’s Delayed Surrender").
5.) The US irradiated their own people and other peoples at least as much as the USSR did. (Read for example Kramer, Wangh, Messerschmidt, or Gallagher). So, pointing fingers is a very unwise thing to do here.
6.) Neither Hiroshima nor Nagasaki very solely military bases. Nagasaki had arms industry and an important shipyard, Hiroshima had army camps at its vicinity. That's it. Hiroshima had a pow-camp and was a refugee town. The US had deliberately not bombed these two cities until the dropping of the atomic bombs, so that as much damage and human casualties as possible would be inflicted. That is proven by the documents of the so called Interim-Committee that was set up by the US president to arrange the bombings. All these documents are in the Truman and the Roosevelt libraries and archives. And if the intention had been to destroy military installations, why did the Nagasaki bomb explode over a tennis court and the Hiroshima bomb over the Shima hospital in the middle of town?
As long as the US remain blind to these points and too much in love with their own history, they should refrain from judging and accusing others.

Posted by M.T. November 10, 09 06:24 PM

Just remember, folks, there are thousands of kids here in the US dying of cancers caused by toxic chemical effluent, radiation, and various environmental toxins, too - just remember that when you want less government or less regulation of industry, because it could be your child next.

Posted by Dan Bielermann November 10, 09 06:34 PM


"You know, it's worth noting that we intentionally bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki for military reasons."

Yes, but not the military reasons you give. The dropping of the bombs had everything to do with real-life testing. Why were Hiroshima and Nagasaki such appealing targets? For reasons of military significance? No. It was the direct opposite - the Target Committee at Los Alamos selected them because of their insignificance - they were essentially untouched by previous bombing operations which meant they were the perfect candidates to use to compare the effectiveness of an atomic blast on a 'fresh' city.

Why did the US drop TWO DIFFERENT types of bomb? Again as a real-life test to find out which was more effective.

Did the bombs hasten the end of conflict? Quite probably, but at the cost of a massive war-crime (and a war whose outcome was already written on the wall). I mean how would you guys feel if someone decided to wipe out two of your cities? And yet so many Americans are proud of what happened - sheesh. And you can't say that Pearl Harbor is justification because that totally ignores the very real difference between an unprovoked attack of a MILITARY installation and the indescriminant killing of two cities full of CIVILIANS.

I know that plenty of reprehensible actions were precipitated by all sides, but that does not excuse what should be an enourmous souce of shame for the US population. But then I guess with the dioxin legacy in Vietnam, atomic testing in the Pacific and a century of constant interference and regime-change in order to further its own ends, the bombs were just another episode in a very long list of disgrace...

Posted by voodoo November 10, 09 08:53 PM

As an American parent of a boy adopted from Semey, I would urge the writer and others to be cautious about drawing a circumstantial conclusion that all medical conditions in the region stem from the nuclear testing. There are children in need of families and these articles tend to 'scare' away potential adoptive familes. The pictures that are shown are heart breaking and heart warming to see families taking care of their own. Having spent time in the region, I saw first hand that there are other factors that could be the cause, as there are in many parts of the world. My son is thriving and we are so appreciative of those in Kazakhstan who cared for him first.

Posted by E. F. November 10, 09 09:38 PM

Why is that woman ringing bells for a Christmas Eve service on January 6th?

Posted by Clamwacker November 10, 09 11:31 PM

Amazing images, really powerful, truly artistic and realistic at the same time!

Posted by Yang November 11, 09 01:57 AM

sadly the innocent pay the price... most of the times.

Posted by yshakeel November 11, 09 02:30 AM

im very touched by these... these pictures tell more than words

Posted by fie November 11, 09 03:34 AM

Pedant said:
it is impossible to say that the fallout from the nuclear tests "caused" any of the deformities shown

Look at any place where there was high concentrations of radiation, like Chernobyl for instance. saying "statistically" there is no way to tell is total bullsh*t. People from this area, Chernobyl, and Hiroshima, were all greatly affected. To give you an idea of how long radiation lasts, they say that at reactor #4 in Chernobyl where the actual explosion happened, wont be fully safe for another 20,000 years. So go ahead and move there, let everyone know when you have a kid with no arms that statistically it was a coincidence.

Posted by den November 11, 09 04:38 AM

SAD ..VERY VERY SAD !!.........why on earth do we need nuclear weapons??? destroy each other we need weapons which have such uggly effects!!!!!!....human beings have lost the respect for life........and have lost values......cant we make a biological medicine or sort of thing which can make human beings less dangerous and kill the demon inside which has so little infact nil respect for life !!!....can scientist invent such things instead of wasting their talents to destroy humanity and life !! and technolgy is actually making evils out of Homo sapiens with time !!!

Posted by Nivedita November 11, 09 04:44 AM

"God doesnot change the conditon of a people until they change what is in themselves"(Quran).It is so true nowadays,i'm not saying that it is these people's fault that this happened to them,man in general has grown greedy in his lust for wealth,power and fame.even when some people do the mistakes,others bear the brunt.we have to go back and learn from those people who lived peacefully.

Posted by donot change what is in yourself November 11, 09 05:04 AM

Es una ABERRACION......... no tienen perdón los autores y culpables de tales ACTOS..... ésto si es un CRIMEN.
¿A quién se le puede pedir responsabilidades?... Seguro que quienes mandaron a realizar estas pruebas nucleares han vivido a vien sin tener ningún tipo de remordimientos, y si sabían las mínimas consecuencias que ésto podía acarrear. ¿porqué no pararon de deformar una población?.... Sólo puedo decir que me apena y me dá mucha lástima lo que he visto.

Posted by Pedro Suárez November 11, 09 05:10 AM

As of the pictures...the worst is the fact that only the innocent ones suffer the most...The only one who is responsible for this is former Soviet government. No doubt they were aware of the population in the affected area and it only is their neglect and irresponsibility for their own citizens. Look at it from another point of view...look for what their government did to all of those who were imprisoned of political reasons and brought to trials based on the purpose to eliminate enemies of the communist regime. Government of the former USSR is responsible for this and they are to blame as the military started off the testing as soon as they were given orders. We must seek justice for the innocent to find the guilty ones and bring them to court. Before they all die out.

Posted by J.L. November 11, 09 06:11 AM

Wondeful pics for an amazing subject.

Posted by Ch4rlie November 11, 09 06:58 AM

They truly were weapons of mass destruction, even though only two were ever fired in anger they still cost untold lives, and probably will do so for generations.

That is the danger with such weapons, that you may still be taking lives even when the fight is long forgotten and animosity has long departed.

Posted by djentley November 11, 09 07:04 AM

This is really sad and yet we still don't learn from it!!!

Posted by Sandeep November 11, 09 07:15 AM

Look at what human has done. Eventually the world will be destroyed by our own hand.

Posted by X. Deng November 11, 09 07:55 AM

Re: Comment #12 - Russian (and Greek and Ukrainian etc. )Orthodox Christmas is 2 weeks later. They are following a different calendar.

Very humbling pictures. It made me ashamed that my only worry when I got up this morning was whether I should drop an obscene amount of money on an article of clothing.

I don't know where these people find the strength to carry on when a "normal" life is so bleak in their country. In the best of times, taking care of a disabled child is exhausting, heartbreaking, and very expensive. Looking at these pictures made me realize some not very nice things about myself. I couldn't do what these mothers (and fathers) do. Their children are very lucky to have been born to them.

Btw, does it really matter that not ALL of these deformities can be conclusively linked to nuclear testing. I'm sure there is a pretty good case for most of them. It doesn't take away from the power of the essay at all.

Posted by Chloe November 11, 09 08:00 AM

look at these photos again try to tell us that nuclear energy is safe. heartless and inhumane.

Posted by mac November 11, 09 08:44 AM

I am from Kazakhstan, and all these pictures are true, sad and touching... We have Nuclear plants too in Western Kazakhstan, but these pictures depict the result of the nuclear testing on open areas without informing the local population... Now (after collapse of USSR in 1991) people at least know why it is so, before they were not even aware-(. Chernobyl suffers, I hope everybody knows the consequences, from 1 single explosion, but what had happened in KZ is that Russia exploded/tested 456 nuclear weapons within 40 years!!! 4-5 tests per year, so one can imagine the impact of it...

Posted by SUNNY November 11, 09 11:19 AM

"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and to be kind to your parents.when one or both of them grow old in your presence,donot say unto them"Fie",nor mistreat them,but lower unto them the wing of mercy.and say"My Lord,have mercy on them as they cherished me when I was little""
our parents have done somuch for us that howmuch ever we try to repay them,it wouldnot be enough for all what they have given us,when we are sad,they console us,when we go astray,they guide us,when we fall sick,they take care of us.we have to do all what we can to please them and earn God's Pleasure.

Posted by love ur parents November 11, 09 11:35 AM

13 - Berik Syzdykov is led outside by his mother in Semey, Kazakhstan on Tuesday, November 19, 2008. (Ed Ou/Reportage by Getty Images)
(y a pas qu'au Kazakhistan que ça s'est passé, hein ! merci)

J'admire cette mère, son port, l'affectif (bras-dessous, en balade) (il joue du piano ...) qu'elle transmet à son fils-une monstruosité ( ne nous voilons pas la face ! ) -n'ayons pas peur des mots- et son regard, vers nous dirigé, sont sans équivoque : une ("sacrée") femme, mère, pugnace ... yep ! JAMAIS, non jamais, je n'aurais pu être en mesure, et ne pourrai jamais, tant psychologiquement que physiquement, etc ... "faire" le 10ème de ce qu'elle fait ...

EPR sont "fashion" : ça se vend (malgrè TOUT ça ... même s'il y a des défauts) : le "ridicule-qui-ne-tue-pas (Sarkozypardi) en fait la promo, c'est dire ... dormez, brââves (petites) gens, il est vrai que les maîtres (et quelques m/tr/aîtresses) brandissent "non à l'avortement - non à l'ivg, ...que du béni oui-oui, beurk, histoire de rester poli) (fondations s'ougvriront, histoire de mea culpa, so easy, hi ! hi !

Posted by franchouillard November 11, 09 12:40 PM

Thanks Ed for ur story. Proud to know you!
Your pictures are prove that with photography we can really make a difference!

miss u:)

Posted by Maya November 11, 09 02:02 PM

Pido A Dios por estas personas y muchas otras en la misma situación.....

Posted by manuel November 11, 09 02:11 PM

The former Soviet Government is not the only one to do this type of thing.The US government did many experiments that included unaware civillians.They also did many medical experiments to study the effects of disease in white and non-white subjects.They gave medical attention,but no medicine or cures.Just collecting data,while human beings suffered and died.That shows how much your government cares about its citizens.We are all just a stastistic on one list or another.

Posted by Me-Mo November 11, 09 02:37 PM

#162-January 6th.Is called "Little Christmas".It is the last day of the 12 days of Christmas,and in some parts of the world the whole 12 days are celebrated,not just the one when you get the presents.
#130-Listen to and support Obama? Have you lost your mind?Obama is just the next puppet in a long line of puppets.You think because he has some black blood in him he can save the world?He is no more or less than any other American president,and he will do nothing more than his keepers tell him to.Just like all his predisessors.Although lately he has become somewhat the little media whore.making comments on athletes,and actors blunders and getting his comments and face all over the media(TV,News Papers,Internet Web-pages).No president before made his personal thoughts on these trivial matters known to the press as he does.Is he becomming addicted to the lime light.I hope not what if he starts making stuff up,because there is nothing going on for him to comment on? Or maybe Kanye West will constantly make an ass of himself so Mr.Obama can continue to point out the obvious.

Posted by Alexander November 11, 09 02:56 PM

not so funny. it's horrible
We are very lucky

Posted by SomA November 11, 09 03:11 PM

One of the most touching issues...
These people are amazing.

Posted by AJ November 11, 09 03:34 PM

Very moving pictures, thanks.

I'm impressed that Stewart Brand commented too (#88) - I've read some of your books and always find them interesting and thought provoking. Unfortunately issues like this are driven mainly by emotions than science. I think in many ways this is an indication of how much safer nuclear radiation is than we're often lead to believe. Over 400 nuclear bombs were exploded in close proximity to these people and yet the majority of people are not effected and total life expectancies *only* dropped by 7 years. Yes, I absolutely agree that the consequences are tragic, but I'd also be a lot less concerned about radiation if a nuke was dropped near my home, or if a nuclear power plant was built. The risk, surely, from 1 plant or 1 bomb must be tiny compared to the risk these people face.

We should definitely be careful with nuclear materials and enforce very high safety standards, but we should also perhaps not be so afraid.

Posted by Jeremy November 11, 09 06:50 PM

"Total life expectancy *only* dropped by 7 years."

Written by someone who apparently doesn't understand the misery necessary to drop the life expectancy of a large community by 10% overall, or how many lives have to end 28 years early for the average to drop by 7.

You and Stewart Brand read like callous fools trying to rationalize the irredeemable, trying to explain away the torture and injustice of others.

In my own rationalization, I like to pretend Jeremy and Stewart are paid industry shills employed to mollify a moritified public. It makes me feel better than to think there are people out there so discompassionate and amoral as to try to justify such inhumane monstrousness on a voluntary basis.

Posted by Albatross November 11, 09 10:32 PM

It is impossible not to feel compassion for the people in these photos. However, it is intolerable that the author and photographer present their hypothesis as fact without a shred of scientific analysis to back their claims. They lay blame on exposure to what was in all likelihood minute amounts of radiation that would not have caused the health effects shown in the photos.

There are numerous well-documented cases examples of large numbers of people living for years or lifetimes in elevated radiation fields without any ill effects (see Ramsar, Iran and for examples). I suspect that’s the case here, but without a scientific study we won’t know.

John Wheeler
Producer and Host
This Week in Nuclear podcast and blog

Posted by John Wheeler November 11, 09 10:47 PM

I am touched by the humanity. Forget the cold war, forget politics, forget who did what to whom. These are people with have loved ones who sacrifice so much for their care and well being. One of your best posts to date.

Posted by Michael November 11, 09 11:21 PM

everyone thinks war is the reason we have so many problems...yes it is becuase of war that all these bad things happen...but who starts the war... in world war 2 i didn't just randomly happen it was the racist people on earth who caused it...even though hitler was probably the stupidest person to lead that being his mom was jewish and he was not part of the arien race but either way if racist people were not around this stuff would not have happen

Posted by Sam Vaught November 12, 09 09:08 AM

that is so sad i hate that people have to go threw this man that sucks

Posted by Anonymous November 12, 09 12:14 PM

Utterly depressing pictures but amazingly well taken at the same time.

Posted by Mark November 12, 09 03:37 PM

Almost unbearable to look at the juxtaposition of human degradation and tenderness.
Ed has done well to capture it all with such poignancy.

Posted by tc November 12, 09 04:13 PM

I have been looking at this site almost since its inception and I have to say that this is truly one of the best series of photos yet displayed. I am humbled by the compassion in these photos and I thank the families for allowing themselves to become part of this photo essay. Blessings.

Posted by franknbeans November 12, 09 09:44 PM

--y los políticos siguen comprando armas que luego usan otros...sus bolsillos cada vez más llenos y la Tierra cada vez más envenenada... y se les sigue votando....y no se piden explicaciones...

Posted by Tazar November 13, 09 04:18 AM

You see the Pain! I see the Courage! You see hopelessness I see Perseverance! If anybody ever had a doubt about the extent of Parental Love, they should see these pictures and all their doubts will be cleared! God Bless the Parents for caring and not abandoning their chidren in the sorry state that they are. God has already blessed these children by giving them to these parents who have been and are going to be with them as long as they can, come what may!

Posted by Winnie Saldanha November 13, 09 05:07 AM

The soviet's government was a real blackness. Detonate a nuclear bomb at the Kazakhs was it's purpose, but the accident in Pripyat, Ukraine, was a kind of punishment. That's why this stupid government desn't exists anymore. God is love, but he's too justice.

Posted by Márcio Ikuno November 13, 09 07:32 AM

Absolute sad and heart breaking pictures. :[

Posted by Hemaka November 13, 09 09:24 AM

Is it like a running joke on this site that every post regardless of content or subject has to have someone talking about God?

Posted by D November 13, 09 10:32 AM

God is not a joke. people just try to remind us to be grateful to God for what He has given us. we have to be thankful to Him for all the kindness He has bestowed upon us and that we do not have the fate that these people have.

Posted by ya November 13, 09 01:33 PM

great compelling photographs, although at the same time tear wrenching

Posted by Chris Hoare / Falmouth November 13, 09 06:51 PM

Ohh! My God… it’s so painful and depressing…………I have never criticized these atomic inventions …perhaps insanely.

But thank you very much for making me aware of such devastation and catastrophe that becomes a misery for humanity.

This is a humanly service of the author and who ever that played role in producing such shaking and mind blowing footages.

I appreciate your effort to change human concept of thinking against humanity.

You people by publishing such a marvelous presentation have accomplished your work for saving humanity thus forbidding one single mind to abstain and debar thoughts that distorts humanity.

You have brought a change in me.

Let me declare I hate such inventions from today.

God bless you for your services.

Posted by Dr RazaHaider November 13, 09 11:13 PM

very sad :( f*cking soviet union...

Posted by david November 14, 09 08:27 AM

I wonder: Are those people children of lesser God? Is this oue legacy?
Humanity has forgotten them, and all we care about is "development" and evolution.
Those photographs remind me of an era, when nations on both sides of the Atlantic, tried so hard to prove who is the biggest power on earth, so as...what??

Posted by Lefteris November 14, 09 04:05 PM

Photograph the poor children being born right now in Fallujah that have horrible deformities from depleted uranium.

Posted by Stacie November 14, 09 06:42 PM

Heart-wrenching.. can't imagine how it feels to lead such a life.

Posted by Jagadish M November 15, 09 05:54 AM

It left me speechless. Amazing images and to the point thought provoking info.

Posted by AKHIL sutaria November 15, 09 11:51 AM

This is so sad to me. I am not sure which would be more humane, keeping these people alive or putting them out of their misery? There are worse things than dying and I do not have that answer.

It is almost as if there is a new generation of side show freaks being created.

Posted by kala November 15, 09 02:07 PM

"109. The fictional entity that some people call god does not exist.
Posted by Djinn November 10, 09 01:34 AM"

Your humanity implores you to deny the existence of such a deity, and mine forces me to accept that He must Be. For these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer so, will not be in vain, without purpose. The lives we are able to live and which they will never experience, cannot be a simple matter of consequence of chance. No.

Posted by Yitzhak Rabin November 16, 09 12:52 AM

As Kraftwerk said in their "Radioactivity" song :
"This is the end, for you and me. !"
This must stop quickly ! Nuclear waste is growing, and we don't have secure places to put it in. We have another ways to get some electricity. Our planet is not supporting us anymore.
Nuclear weapon is a mankind shame. We must erradicate this absurd as fast as we can.

Posted by Charles November 16, 09 10:45 AM

@ 209 Yitzhak Rabin - very well said. +1.

Posted by Rahul J November 16, 09 10:49 AM


If you hate soviets, why do you not hate US which had bomb Japan 2 times in a row with nuclear weapon?

Posted by Daniel November 16, 09 10:08 PM

#162, #183 Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 6th.

Posted by MP November 17, 09 06:23 AM

Shocking pictures.

A reminder for those who brandish too easely the spectre of nuclear weapons (Iran for instance).

Russia should be made responsible for caring of the damages it has caused and I say that even if I love that country.

Posted by Bielorussia November 17, 09 10:29 AM

Well, if you hate sovients be because of ignoring the simple people then you have to hate a lot of other countries like the china,korea,usa,japan,taiwan,bangladesh, most of the african, asian as well as south american countries,saudi arabia, italia, and so on.

Thanks for the incredible pictures and stories.

Posted by someonefromtheoutside November 17, 09 04:48 PM

Send the hait weapons to the Sun. And from that day on we are trully ready for the next level of human evolution. The peacefull one.

Posted by Rui November 18, 09 08:06 PM

#199: yep. It's weird.

It's got to the point now where I do a quick text search for "god" just to see the bizarre connections people come up with. There's always something, regardless of the topic.

I find some people's constant fascination with a nonexistent being to be really quite odd.

Posted by John Noble November 18, 09 09:39 PM

Goodness.. i absolutely love these pictures. I feel extremely bad for them.. it looks like a beautiful country. these pictures are beautiful and yet very sad..

Posted by zackkkk November 19, 09 08:18 PM

How can anyone decide to cause this.
If hell exists I hope the ones in charge are in it.

Posted by Me November 20, 09 06:05 AM

Why do we need nuclear tests and weapons ? Do we not have any respect for humanity and living beings ? It is painful to see these pictures. Who is responsible for this disease and disability ?

Posted by Krishan Dutt Sharma. November 20, 09 10:26 AM

It is very important to realise that these are a series of pictures of people who are living in very difficult circumstances, with severe disabilities that make us all humble to realise how lucky we are.
However, it is impossible to immediately imply (as the editorial and captions do) that these conditions are caused by the radiation related to nuclear testing in the area. The nature of radiation damage generally allows us to see changes in clinical conditions across a population rather than to individuals. There a seriously disabled people living everywhere, it is amazing how invisible they are to the wider world. There is no evidence or information presented anywhere in this big picture of any overall difference in the health of this population compared to an equivalent population in an are not involved in nuclear testing.
As someone who works in radiation protection and who has a child with serious disability, I'm keen for people to take precautions against radiation and to recognise the problems of disabled people. As a scientist, this whole piece is built on an incredibly shaky foundation of blind assertion rather than any evidence that is presented here.

Posted by Nick Keat November 20, 09 12:09 PM

i really dont even get thet point of why they did this, did they even begin to think of even those who have yet to be born would be affected? this is tragic and wrong in so many ways. it makes my heart hurt to see how many people were affected by stupid people who make stupid choices. the sad part is that im onle 14 and yet i can see how bad of a choice these people made by these people. im sure at the time they thought it would all be okay to do this, but now this proves to be wrong.

Posted by Cortney November 21, 09 07:10 PM


Posted by Anonymous November 24, 09 01:30 PM

This is only a single example of what governments are about, not only the soviet, but all around the world...sad. Did we learn from it yet?

Posted by Tire Master November 26, 09 12:28 PM

unforgettable .....

Posted by AR November 27, 09 10:55 AM

supersad :-(

Posted by Francisco Baldini November 29, 09 06:39 AM

this is the true power of photography.. I sat down with my morning coffee checking emails and thinking my problems were such a big deal - then i saw these pictures and it changed my outlook for the day.
it irks me how big countries and bureaucracies cover all this up.

Posted by Abhi December 4, 09 03:32 AM

It's too bad, no, it's tragedy.

Posted by Anonymous December 5, 09 04:49 AM

As a citizen of Kazakhstan, I am really very sorry for my nation.....
It is very sad to see these deprived people. I can not even express my feelings... our nation was deluded by the Soviet Union...60 years living in a total surreptitious secrecy is very discouraging...
I am studying in a high school and when I was doing research about the nuclear polygon. I found out that more than 3000 nuclear bombs were tested in Semey. Can you imagine?????
The consequences are even greater than in Heroshima & Nagasaki...
Still today most of the information about polygon is not revealed....
To the prosperity iof my motherland..... I will do my best to contribute to the well-being and the fututre of our planet!!!

Posted by Zhansaya December 9, 09 01:19 PM

I'm Japanese.
Hiroshima & Nagasaki's toragedy is only at once, but a big.
Kazakhstan's toragedy is over 500 nuclear test!
The consequences are even greater than in Heroshima & Nagasaki.
I dedicated song to them, "We Work The Black Seam" by Sting.

Posted by Hiro December 28, 09 07:34 AM

"162 Why is that woman ringing bells for a Christmas Eve service on January 6th? Posted by Clamwacker November 10, 09 11:31 PM"

Because that's when the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas.

Posted by Wez January 13, 10 06:45 AM

I don't have any words to describe how I am so moved by this report and how I feel when I see what politics of a nation is able to do at human beeings. Simply unhuman and painful!
May my thoughts be with them
Eric from Montreuil,France

Posted by Benromdan Eric March 3, 10 11:54 AM

These pictures made me both sad and happy. Im feeling very sad right now though. My heart feels heavy due to wat humans do to each other. How can anyone be so cruel.

The happy part is the family and caretakes who those people rely on. Its beautiful to see how they take care of each other. They are struggling to live and survive while we live in luxury compared to them. It makes me so sad. I want to help them and i suggest everyone else do too.

We as humans have a responsibility to help each other not to destroy each other.

War is never a solution.

Posted by Saman March 26, 10 10:12 AM

Tout cela est la conséquence visible et indéniable du nucléaire sur l'homme on parle bcp de starlight,hiroshima,tchernobyl etc mais pk ne parlons nous pas des nombreuses maladies professionelles en france contractées dans les centrales nucléaires?! c révoltant.

Posted by marion March 30, 10 07:50 AM

Wow! This story is heart breaking. I am amazed that this baby's head is this large. This story makes me thankful that I was born healthy.

Posted by Jacob May 4, 10 01:32 PM

A coisa mais triste do mundo é a pessoa ter uma doênça que depende de outra pessoa para viver, a deficiencia fisica é uma dela, por isso aquelas pessoas que convive com essas pessoas a primeira virtude é ter muita paciência, por isso eu lhe digo um dia Deus lhe recompençara por tudo que voce fez por esta pessoa. Natal-Brasil.

Posted by Claudio August 14, 10 06:04 PM

those pictures of Nikita and his family were kind of adorable. what a strong kid.

and not everyone in the US thinks that the bombing of Japan was necessary. when I was only 6 years old there was a play at my school of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes, about a young girl dying of cancer she got from radiation sickness. my whole life I've felt that it was tragic, senseless, and wrong and that the government whose rule I was born under is capable of incredible selfishness, stupidity, and evil. at least some members of my generation agree. not every school and not every history lesson disagrees, either. we're working on it. please don't mistake the US government for the hearts of the American people. we were here first and we'll be here after it's gone...Inshallah we'll be the ones beating its swords into plowshares.

Posted by Nathan March 18, 11 10:21 AM
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