The Sun: Chernobyl Meltdown Gave Petrov Cancer

Views on BG | April 8, 2012, Sunday // 13:56| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: The Sun: Chernobyl Meltdown Gave Petrov Cancer Aston Villa's captain Stiliyan Petrov and his family take their seats in the directors' box prior to their English Premier League soccer match against Chelsea at the Villa Park stadium in Birmingham, Britain, March 31, 2012. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Sun

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By NEIL SYSON

CANCER-stricken soccer star Stiliyan Petrov is a victim of nuclear radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, a doctor for his national team has said.

The Aston Villa captain — known as Stan — was just six when a toxic plume from the exploding Ukranian energy plant fell over Bulgaria in 1986.

Radiation in the northern area of Montana where he grew up was 1,000 to 1,300 above normal levels, according to Dr Mihail Iliev, Bulgaria's team medic for 20 years.

But Dr Iliev, 61, said leaders of the former Communist state did not tell the population about the danger as they harvested vegetables.

He said: "It was in the late spring, the population was eating fresh radioactive vegetables and other foods. Many people who were kids back then suffered cancer because of this.

"We called them The Chernobyl Kids. Most were born in the same region as Stiliyan."

Petrov, 32, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia after feeling tired during a Premier League game.

Dr Iliev said: "There are no other cases of such illness in this family, that is why I think Stiliyan is a victim of the old communist regime's lack of information when the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded, and the radioactive cloud came to our country."

Chernobyl is just 650 miles from Bulgaria's capital Sofia.

After the disaster, Bulgarians reported seeing "a strangely- coloured sky of eerie shades".

Radiation caused widespread genetic birth defects in the former Soviet Union.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says it will eventually cause 50,000 cancer cases, half of them fatal. Campaign group Greenpeace believes the cancer figure will be 200,000.

At the time, Bulgaria's leaders toed the Kremlin line and kept quiet — but shipped-in uncontaminated foreign food for their own families. After the fall of dictator Todor Zhivkov, a deputy health minister and former deputy PM were found guilty of criminal negligence in misleading the public and jailed for five years.

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Tags: Aston Villa, Celtic, football, friendly game, Stilyan Petrov, soccer, cancer, Chernobyl, Dr. Mihail Iliev, leukaemia
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