Chernobyl visitors criticised for 'disrespectful' photos shared on Instagram

Clay Curtis
June 13, 2019

Instagram's "Chernobyl" geotag shows users posing in front of the city's abandoned theme park, dressing up in hazmats suits, and pulling questionable stretches in the exclusion zone. The image of Baessler suited up in hardhat and mask in the control room of the "destroyed unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant", contrasted starkly with the bikini and fitness pics she nearly exclusively posts. "Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed", tweeted screenwriter Craig Mazin.

This is 2019, so, of course, selfie culture being what it is there's been a spike in tourism to the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster - thanks to HBO's critically acclaimed miniseries retelling the story that's quickly become of the best TV series of the year thus far.

English language tours to the site are said to cost around $100 (£78) and usually consist of a round trip from Kiev to the town of Chernobyl, a visit to the plant itself, and a walk around Pripyat which housed 50,000 people but is now empty after being evacuated in the aftermath of the explosion on 26 April, 1986.

"It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion", Mazin tweeted Wednesday. "I left those stories online because they are full of informations [sic] and I really want to spread them but I don't want to be seen as an influencer going to Chernobyl because it's trendy now".

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"If you visit, please remember that a bad tragedy occurred there", Mazin said. The image has garnered comments calling the user, who has 3,922 followers, "repulsive", "disrespectful" and "disgusting".

In March, the USA city of Lake Elsinore declared a public safety crisis after "superbloom" of poppies in a nearby canyon attracted tens of thousands of visitors, and selfie takers have irked owners of eye-catching properties in Paris and London.

One Chernobyl tour agency reported a 40% rise in trip bookings since the series, made by HBO, began in May, Reuters reported.

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