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John Denver to Appear at Soviet Benefit for Accident Victims

October 9, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Pop singer John Denver will perform in the Soviet city of Kiev this month at a benefit concert for the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster.

Details of Denver’s concert were announced by Armand Hammer, the industrialist with close ties to the Soviets. In a telephone interview from Los Angeles, Hammer said he helped arrange the Denver concert on Oct. 16.

″He will be the first Western artist to perform for a benefit for the Chernobyl accident,″ Hammer said.

A woman who answered the telephone in Denver’s office in Denver, Colo., on Thursday confirmed the Kiev concert. She would not divulge her name.

Hammer, who has been involved in finding ways to help people exposed to excessive radiation after the April 29 nuclear explosion, said he and Dr. Robert Gale, a UCLA bone marrow specialist, will leave Saturday for Moscow and Kiev, a city 80 miles south of Chernobyl.

Hammer will be on hand for the arrival at Kiev of his personal art collection, which has been touring the Soviet Union.

″It shows we are not afraid of the radiation in Kiev,″ he said. ″It’s perfectly safe for the paintings to come there.″

Gale, who performed widely publicized operations after the accident, said he and Hammer will carry medical equipment to the Soviet Union.

That includes several thousands kits to test the amount of radiation in a person’s thyroid. ″We’ll start the follow-up of the thousands of people who were exposed,″ Hammer said.

Gale will also return to the United States with blood samples to be processed through sophisticated American machines that provide radiation levels.

″They (Soviet doctors) are trying to figure out who got what dose,″ Gale said in an interview. He was in Wasahington to attend a program on how the press handle international disasters, sponsored by the Annenberg Schools of Communication at the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania.

In June, Gale announced he had signed a long-term agreement with Soviet health experts to study the long-term health effects on more than 150,000 people who were exposed to high doses of radiation.

He said Chernobyl provided a unique experience to study the effects of radiation. The last - and only - time doctors had such an opportunity was after the atomic explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

″That was 41 years ago and not exactly relevant,″ Gale said.

At least 31 people died as a result of Chernobyl, and Soviet doctors say another 203 people are acutely ill from the radiation. Gale has estimated that between 2,500 and 25,000 people will die from cancer over the next 70 years because of the disaster.

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