“… Stalker lives at risk, but he do
useful things – makes people feel the Zone,
and understand what it lives …”
Large areas of the excluded territories, which about a quarter-century are in isolation from the pervasive and destructive human activity have become a unique and attractive world in many respects.
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is gradually turning into one of the most interesting natural systems of Ukraine and gradually becomes a noticeable tourist attraction in our country. Public interest in the excluded territories increases by the abundance of quality resources on Chernobyl on the Internet. Also a number of successful computer games was issued with well-visualized plot line, which harmoniously unites world and the fictional world of the real Zone. The formation of interest from average citizen to the Chernobyl Zone is contributed by significant softening of the crossing regime.
However, the growth of Chernobyl in the surrounding information space and its transition into the category of mass culture, interest in the Exclusion Zone is increasing for people who are tired of hateful routine and yearning for a temporary retreat. Some of them, having tourist experience, find comfort in entering the territory of the Chernobyl Zone. Another reason for the growth of stalkers in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the desire of young people feel “a real stalker” – to run through the Zone not on the computer screen, but in reality.
Big amounts of reports on the penetration into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which the Internet has become saturated nearly, drew attention to the phenomenon of stalkers.
It became curious to analyze, as already published reports on the Internet, and talk (if possible) directly with the authors of published materials. Most of my appeals to contributors of penetration into the Exclusion Zone have been ignored, but some people still agreed to slightly increase the knowledge about the life of stalkers.
Main Chernobyl Stalker
Surprisingly, the sentence issued in the epigraph of text belongs to a police colonel, the man takes many years protecting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – Alexander Naumov. This former Chernobyl worker, whose journalists are often called “Stalker”, is a frequent subject of journalistic materials about the Chernobyl Zone. Naumov has its own, in many ways unique, look at the form of visits to the Zone.
Strictly for the sake of this phrase, mentioning this man was worth, though, who was not lazy and check the Internet, he will find many interesting things about this man and his relation to tourism and other activities in the Exclusion Zone.
Despite the fact that a former employee of MIA does not welcome when he equated with the term “stalker” – newspaper “Herald Stalker” with suggestive slogan “Your guide to the area” (created by fans of game of the same name) contains copyrighted material of A. “The Colonel” Naumov events associated with the Zone of Exclusion, elimination of accident etc.
Stalker – what does it mean
The term “Stalker” was entered by Soviet science fiction writers Strugatsky brothers in the story “Roadside Picnic”. It was a criminal profession in the story: “So we call in Harmont the thieves, who at their own risk enter the Zone to drag out everything they can find.” The penetration was of quite pragmatic – to drag out area artifact (“swag” [habar]) and sell it for money. However, entering the Zone had a strong effect to the individual – every hike is staying in the border situation, where every action means the choice between life and death, where there is always a complex moral dilemma, where intuition is more important than reason.
Furthermore, the image of the stalker was popularized and filled with new content by the same name movie by Tarkovsky. This stalker is fewer pragmatists, but more people of the Zone. He understands and accepts the Zone – “He had a meeting with the Zone” – Professor says when the Stalker leaves to be alone. And all the problems that he has, is not a money, but stay in the area, where another would not have lived five minutes, where there are a lots of wonders beyond human experience. Hike in the Zone is a test of you, finding inner values. Note that all this was in 1972 and 1979, respectively.
The image of the stalker went beyond artistic works and it is not surprising. A man has always had an unknown area, and this gave rise to a whole system of related concepts and images: “the border and border area” as the edge of the inhabited world and understandable; “guardian” – one who protects the world from aliens; “scout / guide / contactor” – the one who is familiar with other world. The latter may include Charon, shamans, etc. The problem is that “unknown” in the 20th century became very narrow – geographical white spots left, non-material things capitulated to a science – so there’s no need in guides. However, having victory in a fight with traditional mythology, industrial civilization began to build their one. And at the beginning she brought a new end of the world – a total war of global scale with weapons of mass destruction. Civil Defense Textbooks colorfully described this reality – the impact Zones and the Zones of contamination (radioactive, chemical, biological). There are only ruins and the place with no people, but only danger. Again boundaries and guides to the unknown are appeared.
Guide of the industrial era in the mass consciousness has been called a stalker.
Chernobyl Zone’s Stalker
It is worth to note that there are some fundamental differences in people coming to the Exclusion Zone. There is fairly clear distinction of Chernobyl stalkers into two camps – the two categories. Differences between categories are big enough – it shows how the quality of reports prepared, used slang, photos, as well as the appearance of stalkers
First, I would call them – curious gamers.
Second – ideological.
Regarding these two categories of stalkers it can say the following:
The first – young people having the “basic” knowledge of the Exclusion Zone from the computer games, and subsequently from the Internet. Game mania and desire to force sensory understanding of gameplays are the reasons for entry into the Exclusion Zone. Typically, the average age of this category of stalkers is about 20 years, but not older than 22-24 years. Most of these people make just one – two entering into the Zone and by this they calm their ambitions.
The vast majority of gamers do not even cross the borders of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. They are satisfied by the view of abandoned buildings of obligatory resettlement Zone (area of Narodichi, Polesie, and Vilcha), received pictures and videos have not less apocalyptic view than photos from thirty and ten kilometers areas.
In fact, these areas do not have a security perimeter and arrange of their visit is relatively simple – but not “safe”. For example, in 2008 four stalker-gamers were detained by guardians of the Exclusion Zone. The detainees were tried, as well as one stalker at the beginning of 2009.
The second caste is ideological. Rather unique category of stalker brethren. Representatives of this category enter the thirty-kilometer Zone, and occasionally enter the ten-kilometer Zone. Ideological stalkers carry lengthy visits to the Zone, which take usually a few days, and in some cases reach the week. Here Map and Routes of penetration of stalker to the Zone.
It is clear that entering to the Zone in depth requires skill of solitary campaign and some training. To spend even a few days, in a completely autonomous mode is not as easy as it seems. For example, for a two-day hike you will need only one water for at least 4-5 liters …
Also, stay in the Exclusion Zone in the status of the offender must provide (and has) some moral discomfort. Not everyone can be voluntarily in such “uncomfortable” conditions.
What is motivated of “ideological” and what their purpose of visit to the Zone? The most meaningful answer to this question is one of the stalkers:
“… It is difficult to describe in words all the feelings that fill me during a visit to the Zone, and sometimes I’m seriously afraid that there is a hint at a diagnosis . I hope it is not significant. This is simply the most unique place on the planet, a vast territory, which was immediately left by all the people. Attend all these villages and the city is very interesting, but on the other hand, everything looks ominously empty … But the main thing – I feel alive there. There I am a man who depends only on himself, perhaps this is the main reason for the popularity of the Zone at all, who goes there illegally, either alone or in small groups. I do not know exactly what goals have the rest, those who are firing buildings, make the mess is still intact homes … My rule number 1 – no change in the area, no debris and souvenirs…”
Photos of the Chernobyl Zone and the city of Pripyat – Zone by stalker’s eyes.
(Photo – Flying Mouse)
Last difference of mentioned categories of stalkers is a quantity. It is difficult to find accurate figures, but on circumstantial evidence, “ideological” stalkers are no more than two dozen. The number of “addicted to gaming” exceeds the “ideological” on the order in magnitude.
It is worth mentioning the third group of people attending the Exclusion Zone, people who is immeasurably far from computer games and mental suffering of the urban era. People, for whom entering the Exclusion Zone is a common event in their everyday, ordinary life. This is population of villages, which are in close proximity to the excluded areas. It is hard to imagine that during ours, a miserable time when the government actually conducted the genocide of the village and the rural population in the bulk of beggar, people did not use the abandoned settlements of the Zone as a source of free building materials, metal and other things that can give at least some income.
Therefore, aboriginal-stalkers are not considered by us in this material. Although it should be noted, that their life requires full public attention.
Outfit is an important element of stalker. There are differences in equipment and outfit of stalker groups. “Game-addicted” group uses in most clothing for hiking in the woods, and sometimes a simple sportswear. Devises for field dosimetry (mostly) are not used. Although sometimes, for courage, they have the gas masks that would make a spectacular picture on the background of some sign of radiation safety or dilapidated farm.
Almost all the “ideological” stalkers know very well where to go. They are well prepared in theory and have practical skills in radiation safety. All respondents use dosimeters (very often they take even a few instruments in the campaign) and respiratory protection. Use of gas and alcohol burners for cooking is fairly widespread. Diet looks thoughtful, and usually consists of canned goods.
There is a curious detail. “Ideological” stalkers do not leave the debris. They take cans, wrappers and other with them.
During group visits they often use the radio.
Some of them use physical protection – spray can “Blow”.
“Ideological” ones necessarily have a first aid kit. Here is a short list of stalker’s kits: elastic bandage (it is understandable why, there is the danger of strains and sprains, it is possible even fail under the floor in many buildings), a sterile gauze, peroxide, iodine, painkillers (Ketanov – the most efficient, but fairly aggressive).”