Lost Places - Chornobyl Zone

Pripyat, Chornobyl area and other abandoned places

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Habne is a small town. Habne, has everything that a small town should have: a post office, a government rabbi, a river, a synagogue rabbi, a telegraph station, a cemetery, a police officer, a school, the Hasidim, two synagogues, plenty of poor men with only a few prosperous, the usual for all our small towns

"The Village of Habne"

Sholem Aleichem (Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich, שלום־עליכם)


Note: Habne (Khabnoye) – was the original name of the small town Poliske (Polesskoye) until 1934.

The first time the settlement with the name Habne on the Uzh River is noted in written sources is 1415. Habne belonged, at that time, to The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then falling to The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and then passing to the Russian empire in the 18th century. By a description by the Jews of Kiev, Jews formed the settlement after running from attacks by nomads. In 16th and 17th centuries, Habne was rather important for defensive of the country, and by the 19th century, the small town had become known for weaving and the textile industry. According to the census of 1890, 80% of the town’s inhabitants were Jews, but after a number of suburbs were officially attached to Habne, which were occupied by Ukrainians, Poles and Lithuanians, this number decreased.

The town name of Habne had suited everyone since its beginnings. But for the Bolsheviks, who came to power in 1920, the name was disliked. To appease this concern, it was noted that that one of outstanding figures of VKP(b), the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)), Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, was from a place very near-by, having been born in the small village Kabany (now Dibrova). In 1934, "Under the requests of workers", Habne was then renamed to "Kaganovichi Pervye (first)", and Kabany to "Kaganovichi Vtorye (second)". In the late fifties, new men were in power, and the small town’s name served as an unpleasant reminder of the past… So again, “under the requests of workers", the town had to be renamed. To meet the demands of the urban-type community, Soviet rulers had "Kaganovichi Pervye" was renamed to the more neutral "Poliske", and "Kaganovichi Vtorye" to "Dibrova".

It is amusing that many outside of the USSR did not, or could not, properly trace the infinite re-naming of towns within the USSR, probably giving up the task as impossible. This can be seen as in modern, foreign maps where one can find all three variants: "Habne", "Kaganovichi Pervye" and "Poliske".

After the failure of reactor 4 in April, 1986, Poliske became the main centre of evacuation for Pripyat city, with the Pripyat authorities also relocating here. Some former Pripyat citizens even had time to receive apartments in the town.

Poliske unfortunately fell in the so-called "the Western Track", an area heavily contaminated by radioactive fallout, and though it was more than 50 km from it to ChNPP, the level of radioactive pollution was in reality not much better then Pripyat city itself. In 1993, by a decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Supreme Council of Ukraine) the urban-type community Poliske was designated as a "III Zone" (a zone of guaranteed voluntary resettlement). This marked the beginning of the exodus of the woodlanders who lived here, 7 years after the accident. At that time, the town housed about 12 thousand inhabitants. In 1996, this re-settlement had meant that Poliske was no-longer the urban hub of the region with which it shared its name, and all regional authority was moved to the village Krasiatychi. By 1999, Poliske was removed from the settlement register, and the territory of Poliske and nearby villages were transferred to the Ministry of Emergency Measures and Administration of the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation. This marked the sad end to the history of Habne - Poliske.

The end of history of Habne - Poliske.

Entrance in Poliske. To the right is a petrol station.

Poliske Полесское Poliske

To the left of road are German sentry posts, remnants from World War Two.

Poliske Poliske Poliske

Street "1st travnja" (1st of May). The central bus terminal.

Poliske Poliske Poliske

From left to right: Bath-and-laundry industrial complex. Entrance to the central stadium. The stadium field.

Poliske Poliske Poliske

From left to right: the Central post office. Public telephone office. In cinema foyer.

Poliske Poliske Poliske

The official centre of urban settlement in Poliske. Executive committee. Park and a monument to victims of the Second World War. A memorial sign devoted to failure on ChNPP in 1986.

Poliske Poliske Poliske

The (informal) centre of the urban-type community, Poliske. A shop "Children's world". Restaurant. House of culture.

Poliske Poliske Poliske
Poliske Poliske Poliske

Having slept in plenty after a dinner, I have risen briskly, left on Spaziergang to examine Habne, inhabitants of Habne and women of Habne, guys of Habne and girls of Habne who dress and smarten themselves up "after the latest fashion".

(Sh. Aleichem "The Village of Habne")

Poliske Poliske Poliske
Poliske Poliske Poliske

For a long time I did not hear such cantor as in Habne, for a long time I did not hear such services as in Habne, for a long time I did not eat such fish with pepper, such tasty noodles, such zrazes as in Habne, for a long time I did not sleep so sweet, as slept on that night of Saturday, and all the day of Saturday slept royally.

(Sh. Aleichem "The Village of Habne")


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