the Bandazhevsky affair
A résumé by Maryvonne David-Jougneau (11. 10. 2005)
· April 26, 1986 – the Chernobyl catastrophe
· 70% of the radioactive fallout, is deposited in neighbouring Byelorussia (or Belarus) .
The Gomel Institute
In 1990, Youri Bandazhevsky, a young Belarus physician and doctor of science and anatamo-pathologist was appointed rector of the Gomel Institute of Medicine with the dual brief of carrying out research and training doctors.
Bandazhevsky was perfectly aware that Gomel, situated at a distance of no more than 180 km from Chernobyl, was a zone of severe contamination, but since 1988, he had filed a number of research projects with the Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Health to study the effects of radioactivity on corporeal systems and organs, specifically in relation to embryo development. Gomel, therefore, was a place where his twin interests as physician, dedicated to helping a stricken population and researcher attempting to understand the underlying mechanisms could be satisfied.
For more than 9 years the work undertaken at the Gomel Medical Institute attracted considerable attention and Bandazhevsky, with his 240 publications was awarded 5 international prizes and medals for his findings.
The major breakthrough
Bandazhevsky's most important finding, done in collaboration with his wife, a paediatrician and cardiologist, was to establish a quantifiable correlation between the dose of bodily radioactivity in children and the resulting heart pathology. 
Bandazhevsky's activities were not concerned with the more widely known iodine 131 contamination, responsible for pathologies and cancer of the thyroid and which has a half-life of only 7 days. Bandazhevsky studied caesium 137, disseminated in irregular clusters over the countryside and with a half-life of 30 years. This contamination of the soil is ingested daily in small quantities via wild and farm-produced food in fruit, milk, meat and fish. It is the effect of this low level radiation of the organism that constitutes a new scientific fact. 
Publication of the results :
It seemed to Bandazhevsky a perfectly logical consequence of the researcher's quest for truth that since these findings concerned both the inhabitants of the contaminated zones obliged to take daily precautions and the politicians who were the decision-makers that the findings should be published. This was in no way an act of provocation. Nevertheless, his wife intuitively knew that he was putting himself and his family in danger.
Initially, there appeared to be unanimous approval. In 1999, he was even appointed by the Parliament as scientific advisor to assess health policies and the use of funds allocated to help the population affected by the Chernobyl accident. In his report Bandazhevsky spoke out without any ambiguity : no more than 5% of the funds had been used appropriately. Doubtless, by saying this, he made numerous enemies. 
Imprisonment and trial :
On July 13, 1999, in the middle of the night, police irrupted into Professor Bandazhevsky's house, searched the house and laboratory from top to bottom, seized his computer, books, archives, and took him into custody on the grounds of a Presidential anti terrorist decree. 
For six months he remained in preventive detention and it was only thanks to international pressure that he was released on December 27, 1999. He was then informed that his "terrorist act" is to have accepted bribes for the admission of students to the Institute – an accusation for which no material proof has ever been forthcoming. The person who accused him, vice-President of the Gomel Institute, later prosecuted in his turn, retracted his statement, both before and during the trial, claiming that it had been made under duress. Without result.
After a trial, during which OSCE and Amnesty observers denounced 8 infringements of the Belarus penal code, he was sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment on June 18, 2001. Obsessed by his research, Bandazhevsky clearly was totally unaware of the political and economic interests involved by the publication of his findings.
Chernobyl lies and Russian dolls…
But there is a question which those of us who feel concerned by this affair can't avoid asking : how is it possible in this day and age that a scientist who makes discoveries that are useful for mankind can be imprisoned without a general outcry of protest from scientists and politicians in the democratic countries? .
When we try to get to the bottom of the mechanisms involved in this affair, they appear as Russian Dolls. Behind each interest there lies concealed another superior interest which will weigh in the balance so that the Bandazhevsky affair remains veiled in mystery.
1. The stakes involved - first level : This is the Soviet Union's version of the Chernobyl catastrophe. From the start they played down the effects, by refusing to take Nesterenko's advice, at that time the leading figure in atomic affairs in the Belarus soviet republic, to immediately evacuate the inhabitants within a 100 km radius . 10 years later, after the dissolution of the USSR, the leaders wanted to rehabilitate the area and repatriate the evacuated population to heavily contaminated areas. Bandazhevsky's theory of long and short term risks of ingested low level radiation runs counter to this policy. There is on this issue a conflict of opinion between independent doctors and researchers present in the field and the official representatives of international organisations who align themselves on the official Russian and Belarus positions.
2. It is here that we discover the second major level of interest, the second Russian doll. In 1986 the representative of the AIEA – Hans Blix at the time, made a statement saying that mankind could sustain a Chernobyl a year. The latest AIEA representative (Gonzales) at the Kiev Congress in 2001 still maintains that, in all, there were no more than 32 victims, killed by irradiation due to the Chernobyl accident, with a further 2000 thyroid cancers. By contrast, the spokesman for Kofi Annan talks of 9 million victims.
For the authorities to admit that Chernobyl was responsible not only for the premature deaths of thousands of "liquidators" but also malformations and pathologies liable to worsen in future generations would be to open the flood gate to incalculable damages. It would also be an implicit recognition of the health risks of nuclear accidents in the short and the long term.
3. But, what about the World Health Organisation in all this? It is here that we find the 3rd Russian Doll. We had to wait 5 years before WHO began actively participating in the post Chernobyl situation though this didn't prevent them holding a symposium on the "Effects if Chernobyl" in Geneva in 1995. Seven hundred specialists from all over the world attended to discuss the new pathologies and anomalies potentially attributable to the nuclear cloud that encircled the Earth. The proceedings of this symposium were never published. Six months later however, the AIEA convened another symposium giving an "official' version of "post Chernobyl". It came to light that there was an agreement  dating from 1959 binding the WHO and the AIEA stipulating that the actions of these two UNO organisations should never be mutually prejudicial, thereby making the WHO dependent on the AIEA  . A 1958 report goes even further …. 
Youri Bandazhevsky imprisoned.
During the time of his first arrest (July-December 1999) under the anti-terrorist decree, Bandazhevsky was tortured both psychologically and physically. Emergency hospitalization was required due to a double perforated ulcer and over a period of 20 days he lost 20 kg. The sequels are still present .
As a result of the irregularities both of the arrest and the trial Bandazhevsky was adopted by Amnesty International  as a prisoner of opinion. Nevertheless, after being sentenced on June 18, 2001, he was treated as a common-law prisoner, confined in a barrack room of 80, deprived of any possibility of writing.
On June 11, 2002, MPs from the European Council on an official visit to Minsk insisted on visiting him in prison . As a result, he was transferred to a room with 3 prisoners (including a murderer) furnished with curtains, TV and computer …. 
Three months later, however, his wife reported that physically and psychologically he was a broken man, interested in nothing. The room in question was part of the prison hospital and there is every reason to believe that he had been subjected to psychotropic drug treatment. Galina Bandazhevskaya lodged an appeal, on September 6, 2002, with the UN Human Rights defence committee, already implicated in the affair .
But the principal psychological torture consisted in the constant harassment, including resorting to bringing pressure to bear on the family, via Bandazhevsky's elderly mother, in order to bring him to admit that he was guilty, a precondition of an appeal for pardon. He steadfastly refused. Everything was done to drive a wedge between him and his wife who was appealing to the Human rights support committees .
The strategy, however, remained without effect and was abandoned. After that, for the most part, he was confined alone in prison. In April 9, 2003, the German and French Ambassadors, who continued to exert pressure on the Belarus authorities, visited him in prison. They found his state of health to be extremely poor and that he had difficulty to speak .
However, at the end of June, 2003, during the ceremony for "honorary citizenship" awarded to him by the city of Paris , the first major articles in leading newspapers such as "Le Monde" and "Liberation" were published, followed by  the first publications of his work in western scientific journals. Little by little he found his spirits again. The outside support, materialised by the thousands of letters that he received in prison, had apparently had its effect… 
Thousands of signatures, (more than 15,000)  including those of leading scientists were collected for the "Manifesto for his release of Professor Bandazhevsky and freedom of research". At the beginning of August, 2003 a portfolio was assembled by the different support committees and sent to the European Parliament  in view of an award for the Sakharov prize . He was one of the candidates short-listed.
But, in prison his health continued to deteriorate : on September 9, 2003, he had a heart attack (infarct) and his wife was obliged to break off her visit to prison  , three weeks' later, on October 2, 2003, he underwent surgery for appendicitis-peritonitis . As a result of this, the prison administration gave Galina permission to send food parcels, to provide him with fresh, less contaminated food for a period of two months.
Appeal for pardon :
In July 2003, representatives of the Belarus Parliamentary commission on human rights informed the Bandazhevsky Committee of their representations to Loukachenko in favour of a pardon which would make it possible for Bandazhevsky to continue his scientific work . The prison authorities played a non-negligible role in organising this appeal and in November 2003, they encouraged Galina to try and persuade her husband, who had considerable reservations, to make a written application. Finally, under the pressure, he yielded….
At the same time, the appeal submitted by his lawyer to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations with regard to the legal infractions during the trial was deemed admissible. The reaction of the Belarus authorities was to continue to present Bandazhevsky as a criminal.
Was it just in conformity with his previous actions or was it a reaction of irritation against the interference of international organisations... whatever the answer, Loukachenko refused to grant a pardon in January 2004.
Relegation : requests for intercession to the United Nations and the Belarus authorities:
As Bandazhevsky had had the benefit of two general amnesties which had reduced his sentence from 8 to 6 years and as he had already served half his sentence, he was legally entitled, as from January 3 2004, to have his sentence transformed into 12 months' relegation. In Belarus the conditions of relegation are not very different form those of the Gulag, entailing hard labour in a remote part of the country. After initially assigning Bandazhevsky to a contaminated zone the prison authorities thought better, doubtless aware of that they were responsible of their prisoner's health in the eyes of a better and better informed public opinion. At the time, the authorities with whom Galina was in contact were considering prolonging his confinement in prison for another year . Bandazhevsky's lawyers lodged appeals requesting that the law be applied and they asked support groups aboard to make this known.
In order to uphold his appeal to the UN Commission on Human Rights, the support committees seized the opportunity offered by the 60th UN Commission on human rights which convened in Geneva between April 15 and 23, 2004 to denounce the infringements of Human Rights, with particular reference to the legal right to relegation.
On March 31, 2004, "France Libertés" tabled a written question on point 11 dedicated to the "Independence of the Courts". On April 13, during point 17, devoted to infringement of Human Rights in the field of "science and environment" a France Libertés communiqué, co-signed by a number of French and Swiss organisations was handed to all the UNO journalists and distributed to the public, Place des Nations, Geneva.
The communiqué was read to the commission on April 19 2004 thanks to the help of Contratom (Switzerland). At the same time, a letter to the French Ambassador in Geneva was sent by the Bandazhevsky Committee regarding a potential condemnation of Belarus by the committee. In the end, Belarus and North Korea were censured for infringements of Human Rights and it was decided that the UNO commission would send an observer to each country.
At the same time, petitions and 30,000 post cards were printed and forwarded to the Belarus authorities by organisations as different as ACAT (Christian Association against Torture) and Sortir du Nucléaire (anti-nuclear group)  in France and by the Amnesty networks in other countries.
On May 29, Youri Bandazhevsky was relegated in far better conditions than those originally envisaged... He was sent to an "uncontaminated" zone, 200 km from Minsk. He was not required to reside in the penal settlement, but in a house 30 km away under the supervision of a kolkhoz President where he is employed as janitor. No manual work is being demanded of him . And with the required authorisation, his family, friends and even foreign journalists can come and visit him .
Despite the considerable improvement in the conditions of relegation however, Youri Bandazhevsky's situation remains precarious: in June, he was in danger of being sent back to gulag conditions after a Belarus reporter turned up at his residence with no authorisation and before he had explained to her the constraints to which he had to comply…
In a country, where basic human rights have been and are still being disregarded, as the recent repression of the demonstration against Loukachenko on the anniversary of the 10th year of his coming to power shows, and denounced by Amnesty International , nothing can be taken as given
A political power which the President wants to prolong by referendum for a third mandate , despite the fact that the Council of Europe has just (May 2004) reiterated its refusal to lift sanctions for his illegal dissolution of Parliament in 1997
But above all, if there is no change in his conditions after relegation (doubtless at the end of December 2004) Bandazhevsky will have the status of "conditional release" from 2005 – 2007 with no right to travel abroad and banned from being appointed research responsibilities in a state organisation until 2012 . In other words, the man may be released but the scientist will remain shackled, prevented from carrying out research and deprived of any means of action.
All his supporters insist that it was as a scientist and because of his research field that he was illegally imprisoned. The trial with all its infringements excluded him from the scientific community, laid him open personally to suspicion and involved the destruction of the major part of his data. This is why everything must be done to help him back into the scientific community and, specifically everything must be done so that he regains his freedom to travel after relegation. Only a mobilisation of scientists at an international level in conjunction with politicians and citizens will enable us to attain these new goals for which a campaign strategy has yet to be found.
Health problems in Minsk: hospitalisation and surgery.
At the end of September, there was a sudden deterioration in Youri's health and he was sent by the governor of the penal settlement to Minsk for treatment. However, as he was both under sentence and his passport had been requisitioned, he was only eligible for free medical treatment as long as he was residing in the relegation camp or in a dispensary. The three eminent professors competent in such rare diseases who he consulted did not expose themselves to the risk of giving him free treatment…
As a result, it was the Association "Enfants de Tchernobyl Belarus" supplemented by our and your donations (over and above the € 550 sent to the Bandazhevsky family each month for the last 12 months) which took in hand the medical fees to cover the costs of the operation which Youri underwent on November 12th plus the additional extras of € 320 for nursing.
January 31st - Parole refused.
As he had served half of his sentence by January 6th 2004, Professor Bandazhevsky had theoretically finished his one year sentence of relegation. According to article 90 of the penal code, he was eligible for Parole as the governor of the penal colony had made no unfavourable report concerning his behaviour during these 12 months... (This incidentally is what happened to RAVKOV, the vice Rector of the Gomel Institute who was convicted at the same time and with the same sentence as Bandazhevsky)
On January 31st a commission refused to grant parole on the grounds that Bandazhevsky had not acknowledged his guilt for the charges brought against him and had not paid the fine of 35 483 819 roubles  … Furthermore, the time spent in Minsk, specifically at the request of the Governor of the Penal settlement, had been deducted. The Governor had been unable to resist pressure from above and had finally opined that Bandazhevsky should not be granted parole. 
Living conditions in the relegation village were by no means easy; in his wooden cabin he had a stove which didn't heat and water which froze in its bucket. Added to this were new constraints: the obligation that a member of his family reside with him. Galina's promptly wrote a letter to Loukachenko  and the other authorities responsible for her husband's destiny.
Bandazhevsky's health was still a cause for concern, requiring appropriate treatment and special care. Galina in her letter to Naumov puts it the following way:
"In November 2004 Youri Bandazhevsky was operated on for a ruptured tendon of the biceps of the left shoulder without it being possible to ascertain the cause of the deterioration of the ligaments. Ligament lesion has also been observed in the tibio-tarsien joints. This hinders walking and is painful. The traumatologist considers that this condition could lead to atrophy and rupture of the tendons even in a case of minimal physical effort. These pathologies in the organism are the result of a metabolic dysfunction. In order to be adequately treated and to afford genuine assistance to the patient, it is first necessary to determine the precise cause. In the present circumstances, this option however, is not open to Bandazhevsky. It is only after a thorough examination that a medical commission could provide an opinion as to the seriousness of his condition."
The "Comté Bandajevsky" and all the support organisations joined forces in a combined campaign proposing to send individual letters to the Belarus Minister of the Interior, for which we provide a model , in order to get him to change his position.
A certain number of Science Academies wrote to the Belarus President to request the release of Bandazhevsky. 
On the 22nd March, the Ambassadors of France and Germany visited Youri. In their communiqué they stressed:
"the concern and the growing support of France and Germany for Bandazhevsky and expressed the wish that the Belarus authorities should nullify Professor Bandazhevsky's sentence as soon as possible, or, at the very least, mitigate it so that the Professor should be able to benefit from the best available medical assistance in the country. Finally they underlined the importance of allowing him to pursue his medical research. The Ambassadors' visit was at the behest of their respective governments. The French and German public follow the Bandazhevsky case with great attention and all that would permit his subsequent research on the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe." See ….. (French)
Loukachenko apparently treats all this support with disdain.
13th May 2005: A new place of relegation and more harassment.
Despite the new restrictions concerning visits, particularly those of journalists,  Bandazhevsky had grown used to his place of relegation Apart from the night patrols in the kolkhoz he was free to organise his free time. However, to everyone's surprise, including that of the prison governor, there was a sudden change in the place of relegation with much harsher conditions.
"Yuri is consigned to work in a large dairy farm (1000 cows) as fitter and technician to service the machine milking installation. The work schedule corresponds to milking time: 11 – 14 and 21 – 01. Youri has to deal with mechanical problems and breakdowns at the request of the dairy women. After a 3-day training course, he started work at once. The farm is outside the village 25 minutes away and it takes him 4O minutes if he goes through the centre to telephone or do some shopping. Before, it was possible to phone and get in touch in 5 minutes; now, he no longer gets any calls.
All this walking and the continual standing at work are making his ligaments hurt … At night he is in pain.
As a scientist, Youri Bandazhevsky is humiliated, distressed and also appalled that his time and his efforts should be wasted while the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe is devastating the health of the Belarus population …  ".
August 5th 2005 : Y. Bandazhevsky is granted parole
Since August 5th 2005, after 3 and a half years' prison and 15 months' relegation, Youri Bandazhevsky the Belarus doctor and researcher who has studied and protested against the consequences of Chernobyl has been granted parole. He should regain his complete freedom on 6th January, 2006 provided that the fine of 35 000 000 Belarus roubles (€13 500) which has been levied by the tribunal is paid. Bandazhevsky has no intention of paying this fine as he has always proclaimed his innocence concerning the charges of corruption brought against him. The "Comité Bandajevsky" approves of his position of principal. The sum, however, was to be deducted at a rate of 25% from his future salary (approximately € 200). It would have taken him 22 years and 5 months to reimburse the money and, until repayment, he would have not have been authorised to leave the country.
Faced with these implications, the "Comité Bandajevsky" proposed that a fund should be organised to pay the fine. . Bandazhevsky agreed to this suggestion, made the necessary enquires to ensure that the fine could be paid by a third party and discovered that it had to be paid within one month of the granting of parole: that is to say by September 20th 2005 .
The CRIIRAD which, thanks to its project of the CRIIRAD- Bandajevsky laboratory in Belarus, had already collected funds, agreed to advance the money so that it could be paid in time. This money must now be reimbursed to the CRIIRAD for their project which is crucial for Bandazhevsky's scientific future.
We are asking  all the associations, all those people who have given their support to Bandazhevsky, to the 15 000 people who signed the Manifesto for the Release of Bandazhevsky and the freedom of research, to transform their protest into an act of generosity. By assuming a part of the fine we can help Bandazhevsky obtain his complete freedom and allow him to regain his rightful place in the international scientific community from which he was abducted by his imprisonment in 1999.
The acquittal of this fine does not put to an end to the struggle with that Belarus government for an unconditional release as Bandazhevsky is still banned from holding a position of responsibility in a state institute for 5 more years.
Checks can be sent, payable to the CRIIRAD to
1 chemin Guilbaud
The support movement and its origins …
At the start, in September 1999, Wladimir Tchertkoff  learnt by chance that Youri Bandazhevsky had been arrested. Together with Michel  and Solange  Fernex, Bella Belbéoch  they informed Amnesty International, who adopted him as prisoner of conscience as did "France Libertés" and the "Féderation Internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme" … They contacted the President of the Republic, the French Embassy in Belarus, the European Parliament etc. In February 2001, the CRIIRAD became involved and organised with other groups a demonstration in Geneva in in front of the Palais des Nations and the WHO on May 25th 2002.
The "Comité Bandajevsky" was then created bringing together the members of the different organisations . It was aimed at those who felt concerned in the fight for the right to truth and justice which in this case were being so clearly abused. The "comité" works together with the pioneering organisations and the national committees of the main support groups and has launched a certain number of joint campaigns. Among these:
- The "Manifesto for the release of Bandazhevsky and the freedom of research" which assembled more than 15 000 signatures.
- An information file, elaborated with "France Libertés" and "Amnesty International" for the nomination of Youri Bandazhevsky as "Honorary citizen". 24 Municipalities or regional Councils granted him honorary citizenship or passed motions of support. 
- Another, larger document was sent to Euro MPs in August 2003 in view of the Sakharov Peace Prize awarded by the European Parliament. Bandazhevsky was among the seven nominees.
- 30 000 post cards made from an original print by the Geneva artists, Dominique Laurent Fontana, were sent to the Belarus Embassy in France.
- 4000 petitions were sent on February 8th 20005, to the Minister of the Interior NAUMOV.
The creation of a French / English web site meant that the "Comité Bandajevsky" became a hub for information and initiatives. It constitutes a dynamic link between the different approaches in order to bring the case to public attention and widen action. It solicits citizens, organisations, political and scientific authorities to work together to attain the complete release of Youri Bandazhevsky so that he will be able to carry on his research.
For further information please contact:
1 chemin Guil baud
Video material available: Films by W.Tchertkoff and E. Andreoli :
"Controverses Nucléaires" - 2003 Script of the film
"Le Sacrifice" 2004 Two awards. firstname.lastname@example.org :
-« Les silences de Tchernobyl, l’avenir contaminé». First hand accounts and analyses of the results of the catastrophe. Edited by Guillaume Grandazzi and Frédérick Lemarchand, Autrement Press, Paris, April 2004.) (French)
-Svetlana Alexievitch : Voices from Chernobyl: Chronicles of the Future, Aurum Press, London, 1999
 For the catastrophe and its consequences cf. G.Grandazzi, Fr. Lemarchand, « Les Silences de Tchernobyl », (testimonies, and commentaries by 18 authors (ed. Autrement), avril 2004.
 Cf. Bandajevsky, "Cardiomyopathies au Césium 137", in Cardinale (revue de cardiologie), Tome XV, N° 8, octobre 2003.
 Cf. Cf. M. Fernex, «La santé après Tchernobyl », Les Silences de Tchernobyl, op.c., pp.82-100
 Cf. Galina Bandajevskaya, «Comment on a réduit au silence le Pr. Youri Bandajevsky», Les Silences de Tchernobyl, op.c., pp 101-105.
 Cf. Nesterenko, « l’Europe aurait pu devenir inhabitable», Les Silences de Tchernobyl, pp. 14-26.
 Documents Fondamentaux de l'Organisation Mondiale de la Santé. 42e édition, pp. 182, OMS Genève, 1999
 "However, in so far as mental health is concerned, the most satisfactory solution for the future use of nuclear power would be to see a new generation arising that had learnt to live with some degree of ignorance and doubt." (Translated from the French) WHO report N° 151, 1958, quoted in "la Catastrophe de Tchernobyl et la santé by Michel Fernex.
 Cf. “La descente aux enfers du professeur Bandajevsky” by M. David-Jougneau and l’Interview de Galina Bandajevskaïa by B.Doray in Revue Sud/Nord N° 19 ERES, Dec 2003
 The computer was usable only as a word processor. Bandazhevsky did not use it as it had neither printer nor disks. In order to have a trace of his texts he wrote by hand.
 After having awarded him a "Passport for freedom" in June 2001
 Portfolio. Nominated by 27 MPs
 On the initiative of the Bandazhevsky Committee and France Libertés, cosigned by Enfants de Tchernobyl Belarus, The International Federation of Human Rights, Les enfants de Tchernobyl, Contratom (Switzerland) )
 Cf. Le Monde, 9 September 2004
 Lettre de Kovtchour à Galina Bandajevskaïa 01/02/05
 Cf. Letter to the Academies of Science and François Jacob. March 2005
 Extracts from Letters from relegation N° 8: May 2005
 Letter from Galina 11 August 2005
 Letter from Youri 28 August 2005
 W. Tchertkoff is a director of documentary films for the Swiss Italian language TV. He has made several films on Chernobyl in including "Atomic Lies". His sixth film, Le Sacrifice, made in collaboration with Emanuela Andréoli was awarded the the prize for sceintific films at the OLINS FESTIVAL, France November 2005.
 Michel Fernex, emeritus professor of the Faculté de médecine de Bâle, representative for the World Health Organisation.
 Honarary MP for the European Parliament.
 Secretary of the "Groupe de Scientifiques pour l’Information sur l’Energie".
 and other organisations such as "les Amis de la Terre", "l’École de la Paix", "l’ADES", "les Verts" (Isère)