Everything is radiated: Why MCT has been actively opposing nuclear power for years

One might think that the radioactivity warning sign is something like an unofficial logo for MCT.  Anyone doing business with the company sees it everywhere. The sign appears on jackets, stationery, cards, websites and in e-mail signatures. But this has nothing to do with marketing.
For over ten years, Scumeck Sabottka has been committed to keeping the memory of Chernobyl alive. In his office, there are piles of books dealing with the subject. He supported the work of Brazilian artist Alice Miceli, who travelled to the contaminated area of Chernobyl to record the radiation on specialised cancer film. For some time, he even ran a website dedicated to the memory of the nuclear accident of 1986. He says that he is forever thinking about it.
Sabottka was living in Berlin when the first news about the catastrophe hit West German media.
Like most people, he got into an apocalyptic state of mind when he heard that a nuclear reactor in the Ukraine had exploded. “The Berlin Wall still existed. You could not drink milk. Not eat potatoes. It was really depressing,” he remembers.
His active commitment didn’t start until a few years later. In 2003, his friend Falko Richter called him, asking him to travel to Belarus with him. He was planning to organise a music festival there, in memory of Chernobyl. Scumeck Sabottka first didn’t think much of the idea. He didn’t know anything about Belarus other than there was a dictatorial ruler named Lukaschenko. After several more urgent pleas from his friend, Scumck eventually agreed to come with him.
The trip to Belarus was something of revelation to Scumeck Sabottka. He and Falko Richter met with the outgoing German ambassador and travelled to Gomel, located on the edge of the contamination zone. They learned about how this country, once destroyed by German troops in World War II, was still suffering from the aftermath of the reactor accident. Almost a quarter of the state territory is contaminated — and will be for thousands of years to come. Outside Gomel, the German delegation visited a former military airport — the proposed venue for the festival — which can accommodate 100,000 people.
Scumeck met a Belorussian family who leave a deep impression on him: Larissa, her husband and their children. Their son Dima was born on the day of the accident. He only had one kidney and was learning-disabled. His mother went outside on the night of the explosion to admire the sky, glowing in blue and green colours. For years, she had been fighting to prove that the disability of her son was a direct consequence of the reactor accident.
1.3 million Belorussians were living in the area affected by fallout. Up until today, the cancer rate in this region has increased 40-fold. The death toll, whether it’s thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, is still disputed. None of this was news to Scumeck Sabottka, but the encounter with the family changed his view on things. “The abstract consternation and threat suddenly became very tangible with these people,” he says.
Back in Germany, he was hell-bent on organising a festival for the people in Gomel and its surroundings the following year. He sent requests to a number of bands, but nobody confirmed. Repeatedly, artists told him a concert in a contaminated area was simply too dangerous. Years later, Scumeck Sabottka succeeded in organising a charity concert with the French pianist Hélène Grimaud in Gomel. To this date, he keeps in touch with Larissa’s family.
The Fukushima catastrophe in 2011 reconfirmed his fears. Sabottka was shocked. “If one of these things blows up every 20 years, the world will be wiped out,” he says. To him, it’s mind-blowing how quickly events like this are buried in oblivion. Many of the young people he works with apparently have never heard of Chernobyl. For this reason, he will continue to actively oppose nuclear power, a technology that, in his mind, is extremely dangerous.


Documentary film
The Concert Dealer