Buivydziai is a typical Lithuanian village. A sleepy place with fewer than 300 inhabitants, it has a church, a couple of shops and a school that takes in children from the surrounding countryside. But three years ago, a new neighbour began to take shape. Looming on the horizon just 20km away are the massive cooling towers of a nuclear power station being built near the small Belarusian town of Ostrovets. In a region still scarred by the complex legacy of the Soviet Union and the devastating human consequences of the Chernobyl disaster three decades ago, Belarus’ decision to build a Russian-financed power station on its border with the EU has become a source of deep anxiety. In Buivydziai, Zenobija Mikelevic, the school’s deputy head, says unease about the power plant and changing demographics have already taken their toll, with some families packing up and leaving. “Every year, our school gets fewer and fewer children. I’m a mother of three and my children don’t want to live here,” she says.
FT 19th Sept 2017 read more »