Tug-of-War Over Loyalties of Zaporizhzhia Employees

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Ukraine's Energoatom fired Yuriy Chernichuk as chief engineer of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant a day after he was promoted to plant manager by the Russian company established to operate the plant after it was illegally expropriated by Moscow on Oct. 5. Chernichuk's dilemma — whether to accede to the plant's occupiers or to the directives of its legitimate owner — is shared by all the employees on-the-ground at Europe's largest nuclear plant, home to six VVER-1000s. Energoatom labeled Chernichuk a "collaborator and traitor" for encouraging staff to sign contracts with the Russian company, and it pleaded with station employees not to join "those who betrayed their homeland, city, and station" and "covered themselves and their families with indelible shame for the rest of their lives." Meanwhile in Washington, C.S. Eliot Kang, the head of the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, said Dec. 1 that Russia's actions "infringe on Ukraine’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy," and "disabused the global community of any pretense that Russia is a responsible supplier of nuclear products."

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