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24 April 2004 -- Some 5,000 people, many of them victims of radiation sickness, marched through the Ukrainian capital Kyiv today in a grim commemoration of the 18th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster.

A nuclear reactor at the Chornobyl power plant near the Belarusian border exploded on 26 April 1986 in a blast that spread radiation over parts of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as well as northern Europe.

Many of the marchers carried portraits of loved ones who died in the disaster, about which Soviet authorities suppressed news for days.

Some 4,400 deaths in Ukraine alone are attributed to the tragedy. Seven million people in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia are believed to still have physical or psychological ailments from the radiation.
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