Europe

Belarus march against nuclear power on Chernobyl anniversary

  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. April 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, leading to an explosion and the subsequent fire spewed a radioactive plume over much of northern Europe. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)  (The Associated Press)

About 400 people have marched in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to mark the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and protest the construction of a nuclear plant in Belarus.

Wednesday was the 31st anniversary of the explosion and fire at the nuclear plant in neighboring Ukraine. The disaster spewed fallout-contaminated smoke over a wide swath of northern Europe. About a quarter of Belarus' territory was contaminated and a 2,200-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) sector of Belarus was declared unfit for human habitation.

The demonstrators said authorities are increasingly allowing crops to be grown on contaminated land. They also urged authorities to stop the construction of the nuclear plant, which is to open in 2019.

Unlike recent opposition rallies that saw hundreds arrested, Wednesday's march was sanctioned by authorities.