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Ukrainian president legalizes squatters near Chernobyl

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KIEV, December 8 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko instructed the head of the Kiev Region administration to begin legalizing the houses of squatters who settled near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the presidential press service said Thursday.

The press service said Yushchenko had toured the Chernobyl area and ordered four churches be transferred to the site.

"In the opinion of the Ukrainian president, the revival of the Chernobyl area will thus begin with the revival of the churches," the press service said.

Some international experts estimate that around 4,000 people have died since the explosion that all but destroyed the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986 and released radioactive emissions that badly contaminated large areas of the western Soviet Union.

However, a UN Development Program report released in September 2005 said the consequences of the accident had been presented as rather dramatic in scale but thorough research had shown that the fallout was not as detrimental to human health as previously reported.

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