“Never be humiliated. Do not fear to have your own opinion and to make it public, even if your opinion does not coincide with the opinion of the authorities.”
Alla Yaroshinskaya was born on 14 February 1953 in Ukraine, the USSR. On graduating in journalism from Kiev State University she worked for 13 years as a correspondent of a local newspaper.
Communist authorities and the KGB were the first to "pay attention" to her activities when she was a student. They branded her as an “unreliable" person, threatened her and applied other measures of intimidation. Once the KGB kidnapped her and tried to force her to abandon her political views and human rights activities. But in spite of all this she consistently tried to expose the corruption existing within the Communist Party and bodies of state power. In her activities she felt a growing public support. After Gorbachev's election, she became a co-founder of one of the first political clubs in Ukraine and in the USSR "Za perestroiku " (“for Perestroika”), a self-published newspaper "Stenogramma", the Regional Civil Front of resistance to the totalitarian regime in the USSR. She was persecuted by the authorities in the press and daily life. There was pressure on her husband to persuade him to divorce because of her anticommunist activities and fighting for freedom. Even her son was discriminated against in school.
After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster she traveled together with her husband to areas contaminated by radiation and collected data on crimes of authorities against people there. They did this secretly since such activities were banned by the management of the newspaper "The Soviet Zhitomirshchina", where she worked. She found out that the locals living on contaminated territories were evacuated to the territories which were not less dangerous, that in order to survive these people had to consume food grown in the contaminated areas. She could not publish these terrible facts for three years in any newspaper and therefore printed them on a typewriter and distributed them illegally to help victims of Chernobyl.
In 1989 the people of Zhitomir (Ukraine) proposed her as candidate to Gorbachev's first parliament. She then came under unprecedented pressure in the Communist mass media, and a criminal case was brought against her because of her criticism of the authorities. Her supporters were persecuted too. Despite all the efforts of the corrupted officials, lengthy meetings in her support gathered more than 20,000 people. As a result, Yaroshinskaya received 90.4 per cent of votes and became a deputy.
Working in the Parliament, Alla Yaroshinskaya was the first person to break the information blockade about Chernobyl during a session which was broadcast on TV. Before the eyes of millions of citizens she passed to Michael Gorbachev a videocassette about the terrible situation in which ordinary people, including mothers and their children, lived in contaminated areas. At the risk of her life Alla made public top secret reports of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party on the situation in Chernobyl. On the same day two attempts were made upon her life.
Alla Yaroshinskaya became the initiator and the co-author of many democratic laws in Russia and Ukraine.
After the disintegration of the USSR, she published some critical articles against the former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Gorbachev, who became the President, and against the transformation of the independent Ukraine into a totalitarian "communist reserve". Twice criminal cases were brought against her because of her criticism of the authorities. Sometimes she was forced to defend her honor and dignity in court. Such circumstances forced her to emigrate together with her family to Russia.
Alla has been working for the ideals of democracy, freedom, and peace for many years. She has also been actively involved in working on the problems of international security, including the elimination and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. As a member of the Presidential Council, she participated in Preparation Committees of the UN, in the UN Conference on Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (1995), and in the UN Women's Conference (1995), as part of the official Russian delegation.
As the head of the first private charity Ecological Fund in Russia, she initiated the idea of creating "The Nuclear Encyclopedia", which later became a reference book for all anti-nuclear NGOs around the CIS. It was the first project of this kind, organized by the Fund, that won global recognition. Alla Yaroshinskaya is also the author and the co-author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles dealing with issues of the freedom of speech, human rights, nuclear ecology and nuclear security. These have been published in many languages.
Alla Yaroshinskaya is the recipient of many prestigious awards including "The Gold Pen" (Ukraine), " The Right Livelihood Award" (Sweden), "Ambassador of Peace " (USA). She has also been cited as one of the "100 Women-Heroines of the 20th Century " (USA).
Her energy and dedication have become an example for numerous politicians and women in many countries.
Alla Yaroshinskaya cannot lie. She cannot keep silent about the truth. Any attempt to intimidate her yields the opposite result: she becomes fearless. Communist authorities and the KGB listed Alla Yaroshinskaya as an ‘unreliable’ person when she was still a student. They threatened and intimidated her because of her human rights activities. The KGB kidnapped her and tried to break down her resistance, but in vain. She became co-founder of one of the first political clubs in the USSR, Za perestroiku (For Perestroika), and the NGO Regionalny grazhdansky front (The Regional Civil Front). She was persecuted both in the press and daily life; the authorities even tried to persuade her husband to divorce her. Even her son was discriminated against at school.
After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Alla went together with her husband to the contaminated areas. They discovered that the local people had been evacuated to areas that were no less dangerous and had to consume contaminated food and water in order to survive. She had to collect all the data for her research in secrecy since such activities were banned by the administration of the newspaper where she worked. For a long time she could not publish in any newspaper the terrible facts that she had collected. Therefore, she distributed them illegally to help the victims of Chernobyl. Alla was the first person to break the information blockade about Chernobyl in the Soviet parliament during the session broadcast on TV. Before the eyes of millions of citizens, she passed to Mikhail Gorbachev a videocassette on the terrible situation in which ordinary people lived and died in contaminated areas. Despite all the pressure and at the risk of her life, Alla made public top secret protocols of the Politburo on Chernobyl.
Alla Yaroshinskaya was persecuted by the Soviet authorities for her efforts to reveal the truth about Chernobyl. Living in Ukraine, she protested against the country's transformation into a ‘communist reserve.’ Under the growing pressure of the authorities, she was forced to emigrate to Russia.
Soyuz Zhurnalistov Rossii (SZR)
Regionalny grazhdansky front (RGF)
Europe | Russian Federation