“The rifles of the Russians aimed at us, they are looking for spies among us” – Corriere.it

A technician inside the plant for months has agreed to speak via WhatsApp: «It is difficult to remain calm. Safe reactors, but there are many risks here. Before the bombing, the Russian military disappeared: they were warned “

The man who puts us in contact has marked him in the address book under the name “Technician 2”. He gives us his phone number on WhatsApp after days of texting and calling trying to make sure we weren’t spies, enemies. He warns us: “It must be an anonymous conversation, this person risks his life talking to you.”

Technician 2 works in the central Zaporizhzhia.

We don’t know what his specific job is, but we know it has been there for 15 years. He chats with us late at night, when he feels safer, away from prying eyes.

The mission

In Enerhodar, the town where the power plant is located, these days there are also the engineers and technicians of theInternational Atomic Energy Agencyon a mission to understand the conditions of the largest nuclear plant in Europe under continuous attack by the Russians, for the Ukrainians, by the Ukrainians, according to the Russians.

Technician 2 does not seem to have great hopes for this mission: «I don’t expect much from the visit. It is an important step to stop or at least stem the terror that is experienced in this place for a while, but the miracle will not happen. The very composition of the mission does not reassure me: the Russians are there too. Will they be objective? ». We explain to him that from here it seems the first positive step after six months of fear that Zaporizhzhia will turn into a new Chernobyl.

Technician 2 tells us that the staff are under too much pressure to tell the whole truth about what’s going on.

“The Russian soldiers are always around and listen to our every syllable. If we talk, when the AIEA technicians leave, we will be the ones to pay the price of the truth », he writes. His only hope is that the Agency’s final report – due to arrive earlier this week – will contain a request for Russian troops to be withdrawn from the plant. The mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, who has been away from the city since the Russians occupied it, also agrees: “We expect the commission’s verdict to help achieve the main goal: the withdrawal of Putin’s army. from Zaporizhzhia ».

Technician 2 works in shifts. Even though he can’t tell what he does, he tells us that what he does requires the utmost attention and clarity. “When you work with guns pointed, it’s not easy to stay calm. For three weeks, every time I arrive at my station, I don’t know what will wait for me, I don’t know if I’ll get out of those rooms alive. Now that the Aiea is still present, the explosions have decreased a little, but they are there ».

The attacks

In his opinion, there is no doubt where the attacks are coming from: “The Russian army is bombing. We are not deaf, we hear the sound of grenades and three to six seconds later there is an explosion. This tells us that the shot was fired from a very short distance. Most often they come from the village of Dniprovka, Ivanovka, Volna and Enerhodar. Territories that have been under Russian military control for six months ». Then, he tells how citizens keep themselves informed via social media on the movements of the army. Quite often, immediately after a notification comes the explosion.

However, the confirmation that these are Russian attacks, Technician 2 says he has it at work. “During my shifts, I have seen several times the military and personnel of Moscow leave the plant in a hurry just before a bombing. They are warned of the missiles that are about to fall, then, calmly, they come back ».

They run away while Ukrainian workers remain in the most dangerous place in all of Europe: «It’s scary», Technician 2 continues. «I’m afraid for me, but I’m happy that my wife and children have left. I don’t know what I’ll find when I get home. I don’t know what I’ll end up with. Will they take me to a basement and torture me? The Russian military always suspects us. They are looking for spies, saboteurs, make invented videos and make people confess things we haven’t done. Many of my colleagues have already been interrogated, beaten and tortured with electric shocks. We haven’t seen a guy in our unit for over two months. We don’t know anything about him, is he still alive? », He asks himself.

The future

He has no precise information on the number of workers left at the plant, but about 30% of the staff in his division have left. Most are women. He experiences a strange ambivalence: he feels how important it is that he and his colleagues continue to do their jobs, but he would also like to escape, to be with his family.

Talking about a nuclear catastrophe is not an exaggeration. They bomb so as not to damage the reactor, but the military is not prepared enough to understand how it works here. Even a complete arrest could lead to disaster“.

Before turning off the phone, Technician 2 reminds us that there are also containers in the plant that he calls dry deposits for spent nuclear fuel. “If after a missile attack some parts of the plant can remain intact, I’m not sure these containers would resist.”

September 5, 2022 (change September 5, 2022 | 08:46)

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