In the 1990s, large-scale work was carried out to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, after which the background radiation level in the Exclusion Zone was significantly reduced. Study tours began to be organized in the Chernobyl Zone, but this was all within the framework of the rules and restrictions. In 2007, after the release of the computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R, some extreme people began to penetrate the forbidden territory for the sake of thrills. Thus, Chernobyl has become a popular object of visit: both legal excursions and illegal penetrations.
The word "stalker" comes from the English expression to stalk - which means "sneak up", "go next."
In literature, the “stalker” first appears in Rudyard Kipling’s novel “Stalky and Co,” in which the main character of Stoky is a crook and a sly man.
Later, the Strugatsky introduced this word in the novel “Picnic on the Sidelines”, where they gave the “stalker” a more courageous, mysterious image. In "Picnic ..." it was already a criminal profession.
In the future, the image of the stalker became more and more popular, it was filled with new content thanks to the film of the same name by Tarkovsky. Here, the stalker is already less pragmatic, but more of the Zone. A trip to the zone is first of all a test of oneself, a search and a test of the strength of one’s spiritual values.
In fact, "Stalker" is a person who visits and explores abandoned places.
In the professional slang of the Chernobyl NPP personnel studying the collapse of the fourth reactor, the concept of “stalker” is a scientist, a professional, studying the ruins of a destroyed reactor.
People who illegally enter the territory of the Chernobyl exclusion zone are usually called stalkers or simply - "illegal immigrants." As a rule, these are fans of industrial culture, the popular computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and just thrill lovers. Penetrations into the Exclusion Zone can be either single or group. In addition to the usual equipment for hiking, stalkers use dosimeters, radiometers and respirators. In addition to stalkers, looters and poachers, who are looking for something to profit from, as well as local residents who collect mushrooms and berries in the exclusion zone, often illegally enter the Chernobyl zone. Intruders enter the Zone through breakouts in barbed wire.
In 2007, 300 protocols were drawn up for violators in connection with the illegal stay in the Zone. In 2008, law enforcement agencies recorded 288 illegal penetrations into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (350 according to another source). In 2009, over 400. In January-February 2011, 196 administrative violations were recorded related to illegal crossing of the border of the sensitive territory, in the next 4 months - another 342 cases. Among the violators of 2011, a significant percentage are stalkers. According to the correspondent of Euroradio, who visited the Zone in the spring of 2011, 5-6 stalkers are detained every day in the Chernobyl zone.
Stalkers can be divided into two categories. The first category is curious gamers, the second is ideological.
The category of gamers includes young people aged 18-25 who have received "basic" knowledge about the Exclusion Zone from computer games and the Internet. To satisfy their curiosity, they need one or two visits to the Zone. Few gamers go deep into the Exclusion Zone, often they just need to visit the Compulsory Resettlement Zone. Ideal stalkers enter the 10-kilometer exclusion zone. Also, ideological ones prefer a longer stay (several days) and are better equipped.