1 - Mikhail Dimitri Ivaskovic
Interviewer – Joss Markson – JM: [Unseen on camera] So, shall we start with your background, like when you were born, your family life, and about the first time you felt...different.
Mikhail Dimitri Ivaskovic - MDI: [A white male, weighing 142 lbs, measuring at 5′10 inches, with dark-rimmed rectangular glasses, is sitting in a well-lit room. He is wearing a grey jumper, with the rest of his attire unseen on camera.]
[Slightly chuckles] I was born on the 2nd of July, 1986, in Pripyat, Ukraine. I am 44 years old now, and I have lived with this sickness for all of my life. I was one of the children of Chernobyl, the ones who were infected with radiation as the disaster happened while I was still in my mother’s womb. My family of my mother, my father, my older brother and my younger sister moved to England in 1992, and my father became a fire fighter here.
[Clears throat] I...didn’t remember when I first noticed I was sick, because when you’re sick, you feel unwell and you get symptoms like coughing or vomiting, you know? So, I was - I think 8 years old, and I was in the sitting room with my little sister. Her name’s Lilija, but I call her Lily for short. We were playing together, until Lily stared at me with a shocked expression on her face. She stopped playing with her doll, and looked at me with her eyes wide. I asked her what was wrong, and she pointed at me and said in Russian ″Green!″ and she was pointing to my left cheek. I ran to the mirror, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. My face was turning green, but I didn’t...feel sick. I went into the bathroom to wash it off, but it didn’t seem to come off. I was in there for 10 minutes until it finally went away. My mum was knocking on the door and was asking if I was alright. I came out and told her I was fine, but Lily kept saying that my face was green. My mum just thought I had coloured my face in with some pens, so she thought Lily was just saying it because I had coloured my face in. But I knew different from them, I knew something was different. I wanted to know why my face turned green, and what would happen to me.
JM: Did you know about Chernobyl at that time?
MDI: Yes, I had known, because the area was sectioned off and the military had said no one was allowed to go in there. I used to play with my friends in an old abandoned warehouse in the area, and when we went to the top floor, we could see the burnt out reactors. I told my mum and she said an accident happened there a few months before I was born, and they had to leave Pripyat.
JM: Tell me about when you first found out you could do things others couldn’t.
MDI: Well, it was a few days after my ‘green face’ fiasco. I was having a snack in my room, when my head started hurting. It felt like a really bad migraine and it was really painful. My nose started to bleed and then my vision became blurred. I heard a ringing in my ears, and then I blacked out. When I came to, I felt fine. I looked at the time and saw I had been out for around an hour, so it was not too long. My headache had gone, my nose stopped bleeding, my vision was back to normal and the ringing in my ears had stopped. As I was getting up, I breathed into the air, and it felt hot on my lips. Then I breathed into my hand, and my hand felt the heat from my breath. I breathed a bit harder, and I slightly singed my fingers. I know that when people breathe normally, there is some heat, but not enough to burn your hands. I wanted to try one last time at breathing my hardest, and so I grabbed a piece of paper from the bin and opened it up. I put it between my hands and inhaled deeply. I then exhaled as hard as I could, and watched as the paper burst into flames. That is when I definitely knew I was very different from other people.
JM: That is pretty cool, I think.
MDI: Yes, but dangerous. I had just discovered that I had this ability to breathe fire, and then that is when I began to do some research on the Chernobyl disaster. I wanted to find out if it happened to other people, and if those people had the same ability as me.
JM: That is what I want to find out also. Did you get very far?
MDI: No. When I tried to look further into it, much of the files the government had were deemed classified and many people I had contacted, like scientists and policemen, became afraid and didn’t want to speak to me.
JM: I got the same response. Do you think the Ukrainian government are trying to hide something?
MDI: I think so. There is more to the disaster than I first thought, but if I try to look into it, I get rejected. Because of this reaction, I definitely think that there is something going on.
JM: You went back to Ukraine a few months ago, and you filmed the ruins of Chernobyl as well as some evidence you had gathered around the disaster site. Can you tell us what you found?
MDI: There was not much to salvage as the military had taken up most of what was left. There were just discarded sign posts, children’s toys, damaged homes and the like. I don’t know if there was much that I could research on, but then while I was there, something caught my eye. It was the building I had played in with my friends when I was a child. I saw something written in graffiti, in red. It said in Russian ″WE ARE THE HIDDEN SICKNESS OF CHERNOBYL″. I didn’t know what it meant, but before I had time to investigate, a policeman caught me and said I was not authorised to be on the site, so he led me out.
JM: So you hit a brick wall.
MDI: Yes, you could say that. Every time I try to get close to finding out more, I get a door slammed in my face.
JM: Does this make you want to give up, or to pursue the truth?
MDI: [Hesitates for a while] Definitely...to pursue the truth. If there are others out there like me, I want to find out. I want to know who they are.
JM: Why do you want to find them?
MDI: So that I can tell them...that they are not alone. That, yes, they are different, but...that they don’t have to feel as if they are outcasts, as if they are freaks. They are...normal. There is nothing wrong with them. They are just...special.