Victor Yushchenko has taken part in a memorial meeting to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Chornobyl accident, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, according to the President’s press-office.

      In his speech, the Head of State said it was necessary to carry out programs to develop the polluted zone and re-cultivate its soils.

      “I would like to firmly say that the Chornobyl nightmare is over. Our nation is great, mighty and courageous, and we are turning our face to the future,” he said.

      Mr. Yushchenko promised that by jointly implementing Chornobyl projects with its international partners Ukraine would prove that “it has no more black holes on its map.”

      “After the twenty years of pain and fear, this territory should undergo changes,” he opined.

      The President also said Ukraine needed a new social concept to help the Chornobyl survivors and reiterated that the government had increased the funding of this year’s Chornobyl programs to UAH 1 bln

      “Take this sum as a tiny part of the huge debt the government has to pay off,” he addressed the Chornobyl rescuers.

      Then Mr. Yushchenko presented state awards and cars to them and also recited a decree to posthumously decorate Mykola Vashchuk, Vasyl Ihnatenko, Oleksandr Lelechenko, Mykola Tytenko and Volodymyr Tishura with the Golden Star.

      Participants of the meeting observed a one-minute silence to honor the dead and laid flowers at the Chornobyl memorial plaques.

      Anatoly Kinakh, NSDCU Secretary, Victor Baloha, Emergency Minister, Evhen Zhovtyak, Kyiv Governor, Anatoly Matviyenko, Deputy Chief of Staff, Ivan Plachkov, Energy Minister, Ihor Gramotkin, CNPP Director General, Olha Mykolaichuk, Head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Committee, and Lina Kostenko, Ukraine’s prominent poetess, attended the ceremony.