How an environmental scientist helped lead Ukraine to independence

By Olga Tokariuk

Kiev, Dec 7 (EFE).- Leontiy Sanduliak, co-author of the Act of Declaration of Ukraine’s independence in August 1991, played a fundamental role in the collapse of the USSR.

But Sanduliak’s path in supporting Ukraine’s independence was not straightforward, the 84-year-old tells Efe in an exclusive interview from his home 50 kilometers from Kiev.

But unlike most opponents of the Soviet Union, Sanduliak was not a dissident or a human rights activist – he was a doctor of medical sciences, a professor at the university in the western city of Chernivtsi and member of the Communist Party.

Sanduliak’s opposition to the Soviet Union was rooted in environmental issues.

The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in April 1986 was one of the main events that made him start questioning the regime.

Then, two years later, children in Chernivtsi started suffering from a strange disease that caused them to lose their hair.

When Soviet authorities refused to take responsibility for either tragedy, Sanduliak resigned from the Party.

“The Communist Party knew everything but did nothing to prevent these catastrophes,” he said.

Along with his students, the former professor founded the Green movement in Chernivtsi.

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