BACKGROUND: Radiation contamination and sociopolitical instability following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster have had a profound impact on Belarus. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the factors that impact long-term mental health outcomes of this population almost 20 years after the disaster. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: In-person interviews were conducted with 381 men and women from two geographic areas of differing radiation contamination within Belarus. Participants completed surveys of demographics, psychosocial factors and psychological distress. Individual-level characteristics were combined with household-level measures of radiation contamination exposure and family characteristics to create multilevel predictive models of psychological distress. RESULTS: Between-household effects accounted for 20% of variability in depression and anxiety scores, but only 8% of variability in somatization scores. Degree of chronic daily stressors showed a significant positive relationship with psychological distress, whereas mastery/controllability showed a significant inverse relationship with distress. At household level, perceived family problems, but not level of residential radiation contamination, was the best predictor of distress. CONCLUSIONS: Multilevel modelling indicates that long-term psychological distress among Belarusians affected by the Chernobyl disaster is better predicted by stress-moderating psychosocial factors present in one's daily life than by level of residential radiation contamination.