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Tajik Singer Recalls Performing In Ukraine After Chornobyl Blast

Hayotoy Muminova
Hayotoy Muminova
DUSHANBE -- A well-known Tajik singer who was on tour in Ukraine at the time of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant disaster says many of the members of her band have died at young ages, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Hayotoy Muminova remembers that when the explosion at the nuclear plant occurred on April 26, 1986, she and her band from Tajikistan's State TV and Radio were touring Ukraine. She told RFE/RL that Tajik authorities prohibited the band members from returning home and that Ukrainian officials told them they had to participate in a music festival called Kyiv Spring to help keep the population calm.

Muminova, 46, said most of the people in the band were women in their early 20s who had just graduated from universities and music conservatories. She said they did not understand the real scale of the threat from the Chornobyl disaster and feared that any complaint would mean the end of their contracts.

Muminova said that on May 1-2 the band gave concerts to people who were working on the cleanup of the nuclear reactor in a forest near where the explosion had occurred. She said the Tajik band continued to perform in Ukraine for 45 days after the accident.

Muminova said that soon after returning to Tajikistan some of the members of the band experienced health problems and some of them died from leukemia and other illnesses that she suspects were related to their presence in the Chornobyl area shortly after the explosion.

Muminova said that 15 members of the band from 1986 have died and that 21 are still alive, though some suffer from various health problems.

Muminova says she is grateful because she has not suffered from any diseases and has three healthy children.