Irina Grushevaya – Belarus

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “We must not forget Chernobyl; Chernobyl is never and nowhere to happen again!”

Irina Grushevaya – Belarus

She works for the International Association for Humanitarian Cooperation (IAHC).

Irina Grushevaya (born 1948), a professor of German linguistics, has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to humanitarian causes. As president of the International Association of Humanitarian Cooperation, she works tirelessly to improve the lives of children (and adults) who are affected by the disaster of Chernobyl. She has enabled more than 150,000 children to be sent abroad for a holiday trip. Other focuses of her work are women’s rights and security. She organizes exchanges between youth of the East and the West, and she is the center of a network of like-minded people.

In a period of ten months, 30 deformed children were born to 200 healthy women, because women who had any sort of problems had to go to other hospitals in regional centers or in Minsk to give birth. Now, what does this rate mean today? Six and a half years later, we now know that it is because strontium came down, and in large quantities. We only had a vague idea of what was happening, but for four years, we did not know. And above all, the children suffer. The children are still in these terrible areas. . . .
. . . the children are getting more and more sick, that they all suffer from immune deficiencies. The children have leukemia, but that’s just the beginning, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. It’s like a pyramid with its tip pointing downward. The farther away, the worse the effects. 27 cities, 3,142 settlements, where more than two and a half million people live, are so contaminated that the radiation is one Curie there. But what lies between this number and the normal, let’s call it usual, radiation cannot be data-processed by any computer. We did not know what was happening to us. We see ourselves as Guinea pigs used in a giant experiment. (Read more on, also her speach at the WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992).


“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Article 22(1) of the ICCPR

The drive by the Belarusian government to control the activities of non-state actors is strangling the NGO community. In some cases the government has tried to gain substantial influence over the functioning of NGOs; in others, private organizations have been harassed and intimidated in an apparent attempt to force them to close. Notably, harassment and intimidation are not confined to such organizations as trade unions and human rights organizations, but also include humanitarian NGOs. While the authorities harass independent organizations, they have encouraged (if not initiated) the creation of a pro-presidential youth organization called Direct Action/BPSM that employs rhetoric openly threatening its opponents.

Several methods are used to harass the NGO community and to weaken its morale, including raising rents arbitrarily, ending rental contracts and performing audits. Although such measures in and of themselves are not usually of concern to Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, it appears that they are used in Belarus for the sole objective of hindering the functioning of NGOs, intimidating their employees and volunteers, and creating a pretext for imposing sanctions that are, in turn, aimed at closing them or forcing them to suspend their operations. The positive contribution that NGOs—in particular, human rights NGOs—make towards building civil society has been generally acknowledged by the international community. The Belarusian government’s harassment and intimidation of NGOs runs counter to prevailing international practice.

Audits and Other Forms of Harassment: A key weapon used by the authorities in their battle against NGOs is the tax audit. While it may be perfectly legitimate to audit an NGO, audits are carried out in Belarus with the apparent aims of paralyzing the work of NGOs and finding a pretext for imposing sanctions on them. On March 19, 1997, representatives of the Security Council—a body which, under the Law on Public Associations, does not have the right to audit NGOs—notified three organizations that audits would be carried out. The cases of these organizations, Children of Chernobyl, the East-West Center for Strategic Initiative, and the Belarusian Soros Foundation are illustrative of the intentions of the authorities to hinder or make impossible the functioning of NGOs.

Children of Chernobyl is a humanitarian organization that helps young victims of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Over the years, it has sent a large number of children with serious illnesses to Western Europe and North America for short trips meant to provide them with good medical care and some relief from the difficult situation they face at home. The organization has also distributed large quantities of humanitarian aid, such as medicine, in the region affected by the disaster. Irina Grushevaya, one of the leaders of the organization, told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki that the organization was based on the idea of participation: People have to become actively involved in the work of the organization before they start receiving money. As a result of this policy, local structures that receive funding from Children of Chernobyl have developed throughout Belarus. According to Grushevaya, some 700 volunteers work with the organization in Minsk, and there are some sixty-two regional sections the country. The regional sections do the preparatory work for the children’s trips and are involved in setting up and carrying out humanitarian programs. (Read the rest of this article on


world council of churches;

Republic of Belarus, Crushing Civil Society;

Hague Appeal for Peace

UNESCO: BCFCCF – Belerusian Charity Fund for the Children of Chernobyl Foundation.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.