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October 5th, 2011
06:51 PM ET

The Revealer: The Chinese Girl

It's one of the most reproduced works of art in the world. A painting, by Russian artist Vladmir Tretchikoff, is called "The Chinese Girl" or "The Green Lady". It was always claimed that the subject of the painting was a woman Tretchikoff met in San Francisco, but recently the true story behind the painting was revealed in South Africa.

Filed under: backstory • Russia • South Africa • The Revealer
April 26th, 2011
03:49 PM ET

Chernobyl: No Haven for Wildlife

Today marks 25 years since the worst nuclear accident in history.  On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded, killing at least 30 people and sending hundreds of others to the hospital.  Soviet authorities evacuated 200,000 people from the area, and set up an exclusion zone the size of Switzerland around the crippled plant.  Millions of people were exposed to radiation, and thousands developed thyroid cancer.  Despite that, the United Nations says there has been no major public health impact in the decades since the accident.  But radiation experts say the true health costs of the disaster are still unknown.

Anecdotal evidence suggests beavers, deer, hawks, eagles and other wildlife have returned to the Chernobyl exclusion zone in abundance since people fled the area in 1986.  But one radiation ecologist says that picture is misleading.  Biology Professor Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina says biodiversity in the area around Chernobyl has dropped dramatically since the meltdown.  Last year, he and his colleagues published a census of wildlife in the exclusion zone.  He talked with BackStory about his findings.

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Filed under: backstory • Russia
April 19th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Adventures in the Arctic

As Matthew Chance and his crew headed to the Russian Arctic for their trip out on the icebreaker, they hit a few delays along the way.  The team got held up in Murmansk Province, where they spent some time exploring a Soviet-era hotel, with surprises along the way.

Filed under: backstory • Russia
April 19th, 2011
08:18 PM ET

Aboard an Arctic icebreaker

Matthew Chance takes us to one of the coldest corners of the Earth, the Arctic Circle, where he gets the rare opportunity to go on board a Russian icebreaker that's helping clear the way for ships moving into the oil-rich Arctic region.

Filed under: backstory • Russia