First batch of “ATOMIK” Chernobyl Spirits seized in Ukrainian Secret Services investigation.
Two years ago, scientists launched – to
worldwide media interest - the first experimental bottle of “ATOMIK” spirits made from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Ukrainian and British scientists had shown that slightly radioactive products from the zone could be distilled to make spirits with levels of Chernobyl radioactivity below what they could measure. However, their first small-scale experimental production has been seized by Kyiv City Prosecutors following a Ukrainian Security Services (SBU, Ukraine’s secret services) investigation.
A UK Social Enterprise The Chernobyl Spirit Company – set up by Professor Jim Smith and his Ukrainian colleagues - has worked with the famous Palinochka Distillery in Ukraine to produce a unique spirit drink made from apples from the Narodychi District, one of the still inhabited areas most affected by the accident. But the first batch of 1500 bottles for shipment to the UK was seized on leaving the distillery and remains in the hands of Kyiv prosecutors.
“We are working hard to set up a business to help bring jobs and investment to the Chernobyl affected areas of Ukraine and to further support the community with 75% of any profits we make,” said Professor Smith “It seems that they are accusing us of using forged Ukrainian excise stamps, but this doesn’t make sense since the bottles are for the UK market and are clearly labelled with valid UK excise stamps”.
35 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the scientists have spent their careers working on its consequences and remain committed to supporting Ukraine’s long recovery from the accident.
Dr Gennady Laptev, a Chernobyl “liquidator” who worked there in the first weeks after the accident, said: “We hope this issue can be resolved so that we can continue our work trying to help people affected by the devastating social and economic impacts Chernobyl had on communities”.
Elina Smirnova, the lawyer representing The Chernobyl Spirit Company in the Ukrainian court, said: “This case is a clear example of violation of Ukrainian Law by the Kyiv Prosecutors and the SBU. They have targeted a foreign company which has tried to establish an ethical “white” business to first of all help Ukraine. The actions of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are damaging the reputation of Ukraine as an open country for doing business. We still believe that the truth will win.”