Thrill-seekers inspired by a Soviet-era science fiction novel have been blamed for wildfires near the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine. Yaroslav Yemelyanenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian government, suspects that a group of illegal visitors calling themselves “stalkers” were behind the blaze in the exclusion zone set up around Chernobyl after its catastrophic meltdown in the 1980s. The stalkers are inspired by the pre-Chernobyl novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, in which explorers enter a contaminated zone to recover alien artefacts. The book gave rise to the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky, and a video game released in 2007 in which players hunt for artifacts in the Chernobyl forbidden zone after a second nuclear accident.
Times 20th April 2020 read more »