Commemorations for the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster have officially begun with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia tolling a bell at the exact time that Chernobyl’s fourth reactor exploded.
It is the first time a leader of the Russian Orthodox church has attended the event in Ukraine.
The visit is being seen as a chance to improve links between Orthodox Christians in the two countries and between Moscow and Kiev.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is also due in Ukraine today. At a ceremony in Moscow yesterday he awarded medals to some of those who had helped in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
And he spoke frankly about the then Soviet authorities’ efforts to cover up the full scale of the disaster, saying any attempt to hide the truth later turns to tragedy.