Sometimes people can do some pretty crazy things for pictures, but this might just be crossing the line. 

Sometimes people can do some pretty crazy things for pictures, but this might just be crossing the line.

Thousands of tourists are flocking to the Ukraine’s Exclusion Zone, a stretch of territory sealed off ever since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the 1980s.

Among them are hundreds of Instagram influencers with thousands of followers.

While the Exclusion Zone had been all but abandoned for decades, it was never technically off-limits to tourists. Nowadays, the place is looking a lot more populated.

Some of the selfies people have been taking are captioned with quotes from the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, which is partly behind the sudden renewed interest in the disaster and its fallout.

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Прип‘ять. Наймолодше місто Радянського Союзу. Місто-мрія. Два роки роботи – і в тебе квартира в новобудові. Не у якійсь там хрущовці, а сучасна, з заскленим балконом! А поряд річка, великий магазин, схожий на західні супермаркети, будинок культури, ресторани, кінотеатр, басейн, а для дітей – велика школа та дитсадок… До того ж зарплати хороші, а ще можна путівку в санаторій отримати, бо ти ж на атомній станції працюєш, а це почесно! Але… Трохи брехні + одна помилка – і ця казка лишилася десь в минулому. Нині там, де раніше ступали люди, – господарює природа. Прип‘ять перетворилася з казки в жах, а Чорнобиль став вироком тоталітарному режиму.

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The Internet is calling out what it thinks are vain, disrespectful kids trying to cynically boost their follower count.

But some defenses have been made by those who argue this is just the way we document our experiences in 2019.

Plenty of people have seen the obvious dangers of posing for aesthetic pics in a nuclear wasteland, too:

Maybe it isn’t totally fair to blame these influencers though; after all, local tourist industries like Oddviser have played a big hand in turning the Exclusion Zone into a tourist attraction in recent years. Back in 2018, a Kiev artist even hosted a rave within the ruins.

Influencers who’ve responded to criticism have denied any jaded attempts at marketing themselves; on the contrary, most assert that they’d always wanted to visit Chernobyl for its lonely, post-apocalyptic beauty.

The Exclusion Zone has seen a 30-40% increase in tourism ever since the HBO series dropped, so there’s little doubt the show’s popularity is partly to blame for this.

What do you think of the Chernobyl influencers? Are they disrespecting a historical landmark, or just documenting their travels like anyone else? Would you be brave enough to explore these irradiated lands? Let us know in the comments section.

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