Ivan Ivanovich and his wife knew something was wrong in April 1986 when officials began handing out free vodka, which was supposed to protect against radiation exposure.
Soon after, the couple were evacuated from their village near the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Like many others, they were sent to Kiev, away from their home in Paryshiv, as a result of what turned out to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster. But they made their way back despite warnings about radioactive contamination, choosing the risk of illness over city life.
“We are not afraid,” Ivanovich, 80, said recently through an interpreter. “I don’t know if it’s...