My name is Alina Rudya and I'm 28 years old. When I was a baby, my father, who was 27, worked as an engineer at the Chernobyl Nuclear plant and we lived in the satellite town of Pripyat/Prypyat. After the nuclear catastrophe on the 26th April 1986 we were evacuated from the town and never returned (until recently, for my project). I currently live in Berlin, Germany and I am a photographer. In 2011 and 2012 I returned to Pripyat, to complete a photo project about my abandoned hometown from a subjective perspective.

Proof is on my website Under the project named Prypyat mon Amour, you can find my self-portraits, which I took in my old apartment on Lenin str.17 and surroundings of a Ukrainian abandoned ghost-town Pripyat. You can also see a picture of me and my mom, lying on the floor of the apartment. My father, who worked at Chernobyl all his life (he died from cancer in 2006) put it their 15 years ago as a memory. Here is also a picture of me and my father from 1985, collaged with a 2012 shot of my old Pripyat apartment.

Comments: 232 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

Sorrow31 karma

I find it fascinating that your photo on your home page is almost the same as the photo taken by Will Lew minus the lady, the images are taken almost from the same angle, same location, but there is an apparent time difference, yours is taken later then Will Lew's based on the growth of the two trees.

rrrudya48 karma

well, that place is quite popular with phootgraphers. The lady is actually me, it is a self-portrait. I wanted a strong metaphor, to round up my project, and I found it in a form of that tree.

Ringmaster18725 karma

Because you have personal experience dealing with it, what is your take on Nuclear Power?

Also: Love the picture of you and your dad...eery and beautiful

rrrudya64 karma

Actually, I am not against NP. If used smart, it is the cheapest and cleanest energy source...

eznnia201224 karma

Note: Use to access the site, not https :) Going to visit it now

rrrudya9 karma

thanks, I fixed the link!

MagnoMurmure23 karma


rrrudya30 karma

not only to that. He dedicated his whole life as a scientist to work in Chernobyl..

sixstringzen17 karma

Have you suffered from any illnesses related to the radiation, given the very young age at which you were exposed?

rrrudya23 karma

Me not, but my dad died from the ilness related to the radiation. nevertheless, I dont know how did it influence me on a longer run...

freemarket2716 karma

What is the government's plan for the Chernobyl area? Keep it as a wildlife preserve?

rrrudya28 karma

well, they have to preserve it just because it is polluted for another thousands of years... so it is not for the sake of the wildlife, but for the sake of the living people

GrdnGekko13 karma

Was your fathers cancer somehow related to Chernobyl?

rrrudya33 karma

I wouldnt speculate on that. he was a scientist and worked in Chernobyl all his life, going inside the sarcophagus and exposing himself to radiation. So it might not only be 1986 but the rest of his life too

orionsshoe12 karma

Do you have any superpowers?

rrrudya29 karma

X-ray vision=)

SgtShadow10 karma

I'm glad I visited this sub today. I normally don't but I'm glad I got to see this. The pictures are beautiful by the way. How does it feel to know that you lived through the largest nuclear disaster in recorded history?

rrrudya4 karma

I never thought of it until recently... I grew up with it and never thought it was something special...

tsarcorp9 karma

I've been looking around on a map. Is this the correct building?

Do you think you could draw a rough map of the floor you lived on? I've been trying to find interior layouts for a recreation of Pripyat in minecraft

rrrudya29 karma

yes, this is my house. I wouldn't be able to recreate the floor, since i didn't go to other flats... What is that with guys and Minecraft? I don't dig that game=)))

clevernamegoesheree8 karma

will pripyat ever be inhabitable in our lifetime? would you move back to rebuild the community?

rrrudya8 karma

Pripyat will never be inhibited. For most, the territory is polluted for another thousands of years and buildings are already in a very bad state

intentsman8 karma

The evacuation was done in a hurry and many personal belongings were left behind. Did you have time on your return visit to collect any possessions. I suppose your old clothes don't fit now, but maybe some books or family photos, heirlooms, etc?

rrrudya11 karma

actually, people were able to collect some of their belongings afterwards. I have all the films from my Prypyat apartment, as well as books. inside of the houses was pretty safe

Teisi8 karma

Would you recommend anyone interested in Pripyat to visit as tourist? Any tips/suggestions on visiting Pripyat?

rrrudya17 karma

well, the whole Prypyat is interesting. now they actually prohibit to enter the buildings, but I guess people's private apartments is actually the most interesting part

yajirobi2 karma

did you enter the city/area alone, is that even (legally) possible? or as part of a tourist group?

if you dont already know this site, its pretty damn good:

rrrudya3 karma

I went to Pripyat as a journalist with my own car, but was assigned a guide. Usually journalists can go for free, tourists have to pay and people, who were evacuated can go on certain days (like anniversary)

CommandantLeTard6 karma

I'm actually visiting Pripyat this Saturday. You mentioned earlier that the apartments are off limits. Is there a particular part of the accessible areas that you found to be most interesting or that spoke to you the most that I should check out?

rrrudya5 karma

Pripyat is quite small. I think the guide will show you all the important places. I found villages around more interesting...

wtfover216 karma

where are the pictures....

rrrudya3 karma

check out the Project section by the link, the project is called Prypyat mon Amour

1cdy6q5 karma

How realistic is the Pripyat mission in Modern Warfare? That ferris wheel is burned into the minds of millions...

rrrudya8 karma

the Ferris wheel is there. It never operated, cuz they were going to open it on the 1st of May...

klemenpet1 karma

If Wikipedia is right, it actually did operate, for a few hours on the 27 of April so that they could turn some of the attention away from the explosion.

rrrudya4 karma

not that i know of. According to mom mom, noone knew what happened, telephones were not working etc. People were not in panic or anything... And the info about the wheel working is only on the English version of wiki, the Russian and Ukrainian one mention, that it never operated, so did the guides tell me

DrMaloo4 karma

Thank you for this, I am completely fascinated by Pripyat and the surrounding areas.

rrrudya3 karma

there are surrounding villages where tourists never go. Those villages are much further than Pripyat and also more contaminated. but there is one with a 18 century church in it and some with old people living there still...

wtfudgery4 karma

Does there remain a significant amount of radiation in Pripyat? Were you given information about Chernobyl/Pripyat in your upbringing? If so what were you told and did you believe this information to be accurate for what had happened? Was your father called in to aid with repair, for lack of a better work, the catastrophe?

rrrudya8 karma

My dad worked at another bloc of the reactor the night of the accident. he was an engineer and later on he found a Chernobyl Center for radioecology and environment protection, which did research in Chernobyl. They also worked with a lot of scientists from Japan, now after Fukushima we know why... there are some really radioactive spots in chernobyl area, while other are relatively not dangerous. basically, if you want to get a significat dose of radiation, which will somehow influence your health, you have to stand in a single spot without moving for like 2 weeks....

polarbearjockey3 karma

After the accident did you suffer any type of radiation poisoning?

rrrudya5 karma

I didn't. But many friends of my father, who worked that night did.. they also died

Viperi3 karma

I hope you answer the questions posted. Do you go with a concept in mind and then try to take a photo with concept you thought or is it find a location or thing, then add in a concept?

rrrudya5 karma

I had a concept in mind, but I had to adjust, since there was not so much time and there were always people around, who tried to control my every movement. Nevertheless, I had some time on my own in my apartment

mariuolo3 karma

How much exposure did you receive?

rrrudya4 karma

I wouldln't know, as we were not measured.

deejay_13 karma

That's really cool man, I'm happy you weren't there for the catastrophe. Do you think there are people still living there? With this, do you believe some are mutated to some degree?

rrrudya5 karma

Mutation was very rare. Many people's health was influenced, but noone can say for sure for what extent.

deejay_11 karma

Has there been evidence of mutation?

rrrudya7 karma

if you go to the Chernobyl museum in Kiev, they have couple of example of mutant animals there...

rrrudya2 karma

I was there for the catastrophe, my whole family was. My dad was even working on the plant on the night of the accident. We were evacuated the next day after. There are some people who returned, they are all now over 70 and pretty much okay. Noone mutated, def not to the horror movie degree, this would be just scientific bullshit

EricGMW3 karma

Life was obviously changed drastically for you and your family:

1) Have you been encouraged to regularly seek out medical observation?

2) Are you compensated by any governmental body in order to receive this observation/treatment no matter where you relocate in the world?

3) Seeing as you were a baby when the catastrophe occurred, how would you describe your connection(s) to Pripyat, returning after so many years?

rrrudya3 karma

1) I was encourage to do the observations, yes. I do those know once in a year in Germany too, but just for myself 2)I am compensated, but it is really nothing. I receive approx. 25$ a month. my mom though get's a discount on her apartment bills back in Ukraine 3) I didnt think about my connection to Pripyat for a long time. I didnt think it was something special, because I grew up with it and it was just a part of my history. But after my father died and after I moved abroad, I actually realize that my life changed drastically and everything I do know is a result of what happened back then. You can read this article I wrote 2 years ago, where I dexcribe my feelings .

wtfover210 karma

Id love to read it.. except i have to apparently pay for it... no thanks..

rrrudya42 karma

really? it was free before... Here is the uneditet text from my computer On April 27th, 1986 I, aged 1 year and 3 months, was evacuated together with my mother from the town of Prypyat, USSR, population 49,400, average age of the inhabitants – 26 years old. Now, 25 years later and being 26 years old myself, I revisited the town of my early childhood. I would lie if I say that being a baby at the time of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, I remember anything of Prypyat. I don’t remember anything, but coming back after all those years to a place, which literally changed my life was not easy. I came back not for the pictures of broken dolls or abandoned schools. I didn’t take photos of Soviet relics, which are so popular with amateur photographers and tourists from all over the world. Nevertheless, when we drove into the jungle, which once was the main street – named after Lenin of course, I was hit by a way of nostalgia – nostalgia for the things, which never happened to me here. Lenin street 17, apartment 24 – number 24 would chase me throughout life. All apartments in Prypyat was burglarised and it is hard to imagine life in these empty walls. Not only valuables, but also waterpipes, powersockets and floorcloth were stolen by crooks, who would then sell radioactive goods on fleamarkets to people, who wouldnt even know what are they buying. My flat was not an exception – only peaces of broken furniture, old wallpaper (horrible flower design, by the way), 2 kopiykas (which my father left for me to pick up one day) and an old picture on the floor. The photo is of me and my mom in this very room 25 years ago. It was a favourite of my father, who was an amateur photographer – he even mentioned it on a roll of the negative, which I found afterwards in Kiev. This was a reason for him to leave it 10 years ago, hanging on the wall of what was once our living room– as a memory of happy times, which these abandoned walls once saw. It might sound cheesy, but for me, this symbolic gesture is very meaningful, since my father, Constantin Rudya, died 5 years ago. He dedicated his life to Chernobyl, working as a scientific director at an International Chernobyl Center. He spent a lot of time in Chernobyl, collaborating with scientists from Germany, France, USA and Japan. He was exposed to the radiation frequently, revisiting the sarcophagus of the 4th block on a regular basis. He died of cancer in Fabruary 2006 at the age of 47 and before that I never thought about Chernobyl as the most influential thing, which happened to my family. I don’t want to say that my life after his death was full of grief and sorrow – on the contrary, loosing him pushed me to do things, which I would never be brave enough to do if he stayed alive. Studying abroad, becoming a photographer, taking any chance to travel – all of that I did with one thought – would he be proud of me and did I do enough to become as great as he was? Sometimes I even regret of not being talented in physics, since I could never follow his steps. My father had a lot of Japanese friends, and I can only imagine, how supportive he would be of them due to the current events in Fukushima. In 1986 he was barely 28 and worked as an operator on the 2d block of the Chernobyl power Plant. He worked there also on the night of the accident and 1,5 years after the catastrophe. I found old films from Prypyat dated 1983-1986 in my fathers archive – he and his co-workers and friends – playing tennis, having fun on the beach of the Prypyat river, celebrating someone’s birthday in the dormitory. Some of these people, including my dad, are no more alive and all is left of them are memories and these old photographs. We also visited Chornobyl once together – my father was consulting the National Geographic channel team from London while they were filming one of the programs on the Chornobyl catastrophe. We visited our flat that time too – when we were leaving, he left a fresh newspaper in the mailbox of the apartment number 24, our apartment. He said, that once we would come here together with my mom. But we never did. I still hope that once my mother will come here with me though. If she does come, she will find an old photograph of me and her, 2 kopecks and a photo of my dad, smiling, pinned to the wall. I left is there as a memory. Exclusion zone is revisited by many tourists and journalists every year. It became a place of attraction, some kind of extreme adventure. I try to imagine how it would be if the accident never happened (even though, according to the construction imperfection of the station itself, the accident was destined to happen sooner or later. This is why many stations of a similar design were stopped for awhile to remove the problem before it caused more trouble, all over the Soviet Union at that times, according to Alexey Breus, who was an operator on the 4th block of the plant and my fathers good friend). So I try to visualize supermarkets and casinos on the streets of Prypyat. Light banners and nightclubs. Agitation posters of political candidates. The city existed no more than 16 years before the accident (it was built specifically for the workers of what supposed to be the biggest Nuclear Power Plant in Europe). Now, being stuck in the 1980s it remains its Soviet self, trapped in the nature, which, unlike people, was not afraid of radiation. We are used to see pictures of Chernobyl and Prypyat, which recall some sort of a horror dream, with the post-apocalyptic hollows of the broken windows and frightening remains of the human presence in a form of left toys, old books and broken beds. But it is not the impression of the exclusion zone, which I have got. Silent and mysterious beauty of the surrounding landscape is overwhelming. Wild forest, full of animals, beautiful sky and a calm river, which flows silently through the territory, which wont change much in the next hundreds of years. And it is not the broken windows and abandoned buildings, which scared me, but the feeling of a great change, which happened in the lives of so many people. At least 49 400 Prypyat inhabitants I am aware of. My life is no soap opera and everything, which happened to me in the past, might not be as spectacular and heartbreaking as a Hollywood film production scenario. It is also hard to speculate about things, which happened in the past and which I can no more influence. But coming to Prypyat after all these years made me review my life again and analyze things from a different perspective. I lived in Kiev since I was 2, went to Germany for the first time at the age of 9 with the Kids of Chornobyl exchange programme and learned the language probably because of that. I graduated from two universities and finally ended up back in Germany, this time following my dream. I wonder what would happen if in 1986 nothing had gone wrong? Would I have gone to a kindergarten and then local school? Would I have kayaked with my dad on the river Uzh and Prypyat? Would I have my graduation ball in the Energetic restaurant and meet the dawn with a view of the Chornobyl Nuclear power plant? Would I have grown up a small town girl, met my first love here, got married and had 2 kids by the age of 26 with their grandfather still alive? I guess, I would never know.

Dedicated to the memory of my father and best friend, Constantine Rudya (25.03.1958-08.02.2006)

Riego3 karma

Do you have any memories of the event itself? What was it like?

rrrudya3 karma

I was only 1, so I dont remember anything, just the stories from my parents and the after-experience at school and my dad's death

intentsman3 karma

Were you granted special permission to go into only your apartment?

If anyone else comes as a tourist, they can only walk around outside and look in the windows?

rrrudya5 karma

well, some touristic guides allows people to walk around as they wish, but it is considered dangerous and prohibited. In 2011 I didnt have a problem entering any buildings, but in 2012 they were rather strict. Also, I went as a journalist, so not with a group

GivesDecentAdvice3 karma

Did your parents give you most of the detail? What did they tell you?

rrrudya8 karma

well, my dad worked there afterwards as well, so I knew pretty much everything. You can watch this movie by National Geographic ( Seconds from Disaster), which my father was a consultant to. I was there while they were filming too

Major_halil3 karma

What are the direct consequences of the disasters.

rrrudya3 karma

the direct? Polluted areas in Ukraine and Belarus, abandoned territories, people getting cancer...

Major_halil2 karma

For you.

rrrudya3 karma

well, My health was not influenced noticeable. I have an enlarged thyroid gland and recently someone asked me if I can have kids... well, maybe there is smth in the future to worry about, but I hope not

rrrudya3 karma

Guys, thank you for all the questions. I hope I managed to answer most of them.

IntotheVoid_2 karma

How close is STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl?

rrrudya4 karma

the creators of the game did a pretty close depiction of real Pripyat

myrandomname2 karma

I don't know why, but I find pictures of Pripyat fascinating. It's unfortunate there are not more of them on your website.

rrrudya4 karma

I didnt put all the pictures on the website, I have to do it

greenw402 karma

Can it really be considered your home town if you moved away at age 1?

rrrudya39 karma

It can be, since it formed who I am and where I am right now. Without what happened to us back then, I wont be the person I am now.

englishmanincan2 karma


rrrudya5 karma

Unfortunately nothing, I was 1

RevBox1112 karma


rrrudya1 karma

Yes, I saw those graffitis, I think it is a brilliant idea! some modernity in the ghost town stuck in the 80s

TheBeardedHipster2 karma

I have a few questions about traveling in the area: - are the guides trustworthy? - is it moderately safe? - would it be safe for an American?

rrrudya7 karma

The guides are assigned to you by the authorities. All toures are well-orginized and as far as I know, it is safe to go there and there is no difference whether you are American or else=)

iK0NiK3 karma

If there are guides assigned to you, how did you manage to pull off a nude self-portrait?

rrrudya3 karma

I was in my apartment and I asked for 10 minutes to be alone...

myrandomname3 karma

Considering how many people go there, it seems relatively safe... As far as nuclear disaster sites go.

rrrudya5 karma

Going there for a day is safe. A day in Prypyat equals a London-New York flight in term of radiation exposure...

RubyKnight32 karma

What was different then public perspective about Chernobyl?

rrrudya3 karma

there are no monsters on the street and it is by far not as dangerous as people think

mothfukle2 karma

I don't have anything to ask, but I just wanted to say thanks. Chernobyl fascinates me, and I appreciate the opportunity to see it in a new light.

rrrudya1 karma

thank you!

UniversityGyno2 karma

How did you get in to photography? Is it your soul means of income?

rrrudya2 karma

My father was an amateur photographer and I've decided to study it after I was not satisfied with my diplomas in Political Science and Journalism. Right now I work as a freelance photographer, had my solo exhibition and work as a graphic design intern... So not a rich famous artist yet=)

UniversityGyno1 karma

Thanks, I only ask because I've just started studying photography as well. What skills/software did you find most useful in your internship? Love you work btw

rrrudya1 karma

I mostly work in photoshop and indesign, sometimes Illustrator. As for photography, I prefer not to photoshop my pictures, sometimes a bit of photoshop for color balance and sharpness, but nothing drastic.

Plecboy2 karma

Do you consider Prypyat to be your home? What's it like seeing the place you came from as a ghost town? What sort of emotions were going through your mind as you walked around? (Sorry, basically a variation of the same question).

rrrudya5 karma

read my older article about my feelings, if yo are interested

princessgrace191 karma

Wish I could read it without paying 9 bucks. :(

However i'm more sad that your bandwidth has been exceeded. hopefully I won't screw up and close it accidentally and will be able to wait a day until I can reload it and look at your pics.

rrrudya2 karma

oh, I wasnt expecting reddit people to break my website=) Never had so much traffic before=)

cuzzard2 karma

is it true there are wolves running wild through there?

rrrudya11 karma

I havent seen any, but it is true that flora and fauna is very vivid. There are wolves and bears and wild bores...

RainbowPopsicle2 karma

Whats it like visiting Prypyat?

I mean is it sad, do you feel nostalgia?

rrrudya1 karma

yes, it was nostalgic. I tried to imagine how would it be now to live there..

2plus2equalsFUCKYOU2 karma

I was always fascinated by the Chernobyl incident, then I visited an area in the south of Belarus and saw the effect it has had on the country, and most notably the children, and now it just makes me sad. What emotions do you feel going back to Pripyat these days?

rrrudya2 karma

intentsman1 karma

Did you go fishing while in the evacuation zone, and if so did you eat the fish?

NeilaK201 karma

I saw the River Monsters episode last night where Jeremy Wade gets to fish in the Evacuation Zone. He had to get several levels of clearance in order to fish at all and then whatever he caught had to be handed over to be studied. It's otherwise illegal to fish there. Also they said the fish he caught was half the size it should have been for it's age and quite radioactive.

rrrudya3 karma

there are people still living in the zone and they grow crops, as for fishing Im not sure, but the same water goes down to Kiev where people fish and it is probably the same fish as in the zone...

NeilaK201 karma

Maybe it's just illegal for people from outside to come in and fish? The host of the show was fishing right next to the reactor so he could catch a catfish that lives on the bottom of the cooling pond for scientists to study since a lot of the radioactive particles get washed down in the bottom of the pond and settle. It was a fascinating show to watch. Your photographs are amazing and haunting at the same time by the way! :D Will you be able to go back and do more?

rrrudya3 karma

I went there 3 times. As for people coming in and fishing illegaly - it is really hard to get inside the zone. There are check points and you need a special permission to get in. maybe someone gets in through the woods, but if they get caught, they have to pay a fine

SteSchum1 karma

Do you know Wladimir Kaminer? If so, what do you think of him and his Russendisko?

rrrudya2 karma

haha, I just watched the movie yesterday=) I read the book and i liked it. The movie is ok too

thecatsmasher1 karma

Is it anything like the movie????

rrrudya3 karma

I havent seen the movie, but as far as I saw the trailer, they make it look like the real town. no monsters though

thecatsmasher1 karma

No mutant fish??

rrrudya3 karma

I've noticed none running around=)

TomfromLondon1 karma

Hi Alina, I was there last week so my thoughts go out to you

rrrudya2 karma

thank you!

intentsman1 karma

How long were you in the evacuation zone? If you were there overnight does anything glow in the dark?

rrrudya7 karma

I've been there 3 times for 6-8 hours=) nothing glows

[deleted]1 karma


rrrudya2 karma

Chernobyl is usually a day trip, you need 3 hours to get there from kiev and usually you need to leave the Zone by 17.00 it will be cheaper that way too, since sleepover in chernobyl is quite expensive

kittydorkdork1 karma

Your photography is gorgeous.

rrrudya3 karma

I am happy you manage to see the pictures...It looks like I had a traffic overload on my website

slothrr1 karma

Do you know Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello?

rrrudya2 karma

as far as I know, he lives in New York=) I've never been there

snekiam1 karma

We killed your website. :-(

rrrudya2 karma

how and why?

Zhangar1 karma

I hope Im not too late but, have you ever played STALKER: Call of Pripyat?

I hope to visit Chernobyl one day. I would love to see it.

rrrudya2 karma

I didnt play it, but I liked the graphycs. It is very close to real Prypyat

intentsman1 karma

What is your superpower?

rrrudya8 karma

funny that so many people ask me that=) I wish I could teleport though

LoneRanger90 karma

I don't know if this guy understands what an AMA is, considering he hasn't answered a single question.

rrrudya11 karma

Sorry, guys. I posted when I was at work and then I didnt know if it first has to be approved or smth...

KillerInYourCloset-1 karma

What you are doing is cool, but dangerous. You should not be in the woods, and certainly not nude indoors. Did the guides not tell you this?

rrrudya3 karma

Actually, inside of the houses is pretty safe. They even want to demolish all the buildings to use the building materials for further use.

intentsman-3 karma

Does having 3 eyes give you an advantage compared to other photographers?

rrrudya15 karma

no, but it gives an advantage compared to dumb commentators=)

keatonch-3 karma


rrrudya4 karma

I'm sorry, I wasn't near internet=)

Giterbug-3 karma

Another story that is far more interesting than it's accompanying poor photographic edit of badly split-toned digital images and unnecessary nude self-portraits.

rrrudya1 karma

Everyone has a right for an opinion.

rrrudya1 karma

by he way, where did you see a split-toned digital image?

Smoochtime-4 karma

Not really your hometown if you left when you were 1, can't remember being there and didn't grow up there.

rrrudya7 karma

It formed my current self, so I consider it my hometown to some extent