On 26 April 1986, the core of a reactor at a nuclear power station in the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl overheated, setting off the worst nuclear accident in history to date. Radioactive fallout spread far enough to be detected in Scandinavia and Poland. As a result, the news that a major nuclear incident had occurred somewhere in the Soviet Union was known to the rest of the world before it reached the Soviet population. When, three days later, the Soviet authorities finally released some information to foreign embassies and news agencies, and eventually to their own people, they suggested that the incident was minor and had been effectively contained [13: 479]. A year later, in May 1987, an eccentric young German, Mathias Rust, flew his light plane across Soviet space, evading the radar and defence systems of one of the world’s two great superpowers, and landed next to the Kremlin in Moscow’s Red Square.
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