Medvedev and Yanukovych remember Chernobyl victims
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has made the first visit by a Russian head of state to the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. He was joined by Ukranian leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Both leaders paid tribute to the victims of the 1986 catastrophe which happened as workers at the plant were carrying out a test on a reactor when operating errors and design flams spared a series of explosions.
Two workers were killed in the blasts and 28 other rescuers and staff died of radiation exposure over the next few months. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the region following the successive explosions which blew radioactive material into the neighbouring Soviet republics of Belarus and Russia and further into western Europe.
Speaking during the visit both Medvedev and Yanukovych called for greater security at nuclear power stations after leaks at Japan's Fukushima plant sparked new concerns over the safety of nuclear power.
"We are marking a tragic date," said Yanukovych. "Twenty five years have passed and we have understood that nuclear accidents have colossal consequences for the population."
Medvedev meanwhile announced that he had forwarded to international partners plans for a new global nuclear safety convention to ensure the disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima were not repeated.
A day ahead of Tuesday's anniversary, anti-nuclear activists in France and Germany staged mass protests to demand the closure of nuclear reactors.
Organisers claimed tens of thousands of demonstrators joined nationwide protests in Germany at 12 different sites as part of the traditional annual peace protest known as the Easter March while hundreds of activists at the French-German border at Strasbourg staged a dramatic 'die in'.