Photo by gerdludwig / In 2011 the Ukrainian government officially legalized tourism in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where visitors can wander through debris-strewn corridors and abandoned classrooms. Hundreds of discarded gas masks litter the floor of the canteen. One tourist brought his own gas mask—not to protect himself but simply to be used in his own photographs. Since the release of the "Chernobyl" miniseries in 2019, the region has become an increasingly popular site for visitors. In the wake of the recent 35th anniversary of the nuclear disaster, Ukrainian cultural minister Oleksandr Tkachenko announced a somewhat unusual proposal: to designate the zone as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This could bring a projected annual influx of one million visitors—with the option to stay overnight—to a site where signs of hurried abandonment are ubiquitous.
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