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Beyond Nuclear International

Labeled “extremists” and “foreign agents”, Fedor Maryasov and Andrey Talevlin put country and courage first

By Oleg Bodrov

The first time Fedor Maryasov realized that something might be very wrong in his community was as a teenager. Growing up in the uranium mining city of Zarafshan, Uzbekistan, young Fedor and his friends would swim in artificial ponds holding discharge water from the uranium mines. They fished there too, but they began to notice the fish were disfigured by genetic abnormalities, displaying red spots and growths. Still, the authorities were saying nothing. And the teenage boys, like most people in Zarafshan, knew little about how radiation affects living organisms.

By 1993, Maryasov was studying at the university in Tomsk, Siberia. That year, there was a radiation accident at the Siberian Chemical Combine, operated by the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The city of 300,000 escaped danger as the radiation release went in a…

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