"I do not know what you are talking about," he said.
Our truck reached the final checkpoint. A guard came out and the driver wound his window down. They chatted in a mix of Russian and Ukrainian, the guard laughed at some shared joke then went to open the gates.
We drove through onto the last road to Pripyat, City of Ghosts. Chernobyl's legacy.
The road was uneven and the countryside bleak. Far ahead the outskirts of the city, with its harsh Soviet-era architecture, was already recognisable.
"I heard it just... appeared," I slipped a fifty-Euro note under the replica icon on the dashboard. The driver glanced at it.
"So you know." he said, "The internet?"
"No, a man in Nova Radcha."
The driver gave me that sidelong look again. The man I'd met was a drunk in the hotel bar, somehow he'd known I was going to Pripyat. He'd told me all about it.
"Yuri." the driver nodded. He slid the money back to me, "I will take you there."
We passed through the city, it was as cold and lonely as I'd expected, and pulled into a decaying children's playground. There it stood, fifty feet tall, the Pripyat Angel. Tears of rust stained its cheeks and a thick rope hung about its neck. Its wings stretched out, both protective and menacing.
At its base was a Cyrillic inscription:
And the Third Angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.