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Victor Khanayev, a surgeon in the Russian district of Novozybkov, said many people were too poor to ensure they only ate food that was not contaminated.
In the target area they had chosen, the 250-square-mile Novozybkov district of western Russia's Bryansk region, near the border with Ukraine, economic conditions had deteriorated so much that citizens would sometimes burn radioactive peat when they knew that government monitors were coming, to ensure they'd keep receiving compensation funds.
Boukvareva's screen filled with scenes of Novozybkov. High-resolution images showed ponds and gingerbread-trimmed cottages surrounded by green pastures and golden fields, which segued into animations of children walking to school and men on horseback driving cows down village lanes.
An aerial view of the tainted Novozybkov landscape now appeared on the screen, digitally scanned from the topographic maps Gennady Yagodin had somehow coaxed from the Soviet Defense Ministry.