Samosely ("self-settlers") are residents of the 30 kilometer Zone of Alienation surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The zone contains a number of abandoned towns and villages whose current population is made up of people who either refused to evacuate the area or secretly resettled in the relatively unprotected region after it was cordoned off.
The majority of the samosely are elderly people who made their home in the area prior to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, although some are disaffected settlers from outside the region. When the population was evacuated, they were initially told they could return in a few days, and many faced discrimination in areas of government resettlement. Most are concentrated in the town of Chernobyl itself, with about half the population dispersed in other villages throughout the zone such as Teremtsi, Opachychi and Ilyintsi.
The average age of a Samosel was 63 in 2007. In 2012, the local administration unofficially granted permission to the elderly samosel to live in the area, but ordered all the younger inhabitants to move out. The total population in 2009 was reported to be 271