The disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant pretty quickly entered the category of “top news” among the world’s leading sources of information. Journalists, representatives of diplomatic missions of foreign countries, world scientists, ordinary tourists from different countries, who were in the USSR, tried to find out more about the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.
But the Soviet leadership was limited only to dry official comments, which were often controversial and sometimes far from the truth. The KGB was inclined to state the machinations of Western intelligence services in every manifestation of interest on the part of foreign citizens or international organizations.
The KGB is not a playground. The Committee decided to prepare in advance for such a situation and began to independently supply everyone with the “first-hand right information”, knowing full well that sooner or later, representatives of foreign media accredited in the USSR would like to receive unofficial information about the Chernobyl tragedy.
The public, thanks to the declassified information of the archive of special services, became aware of the incident that occurred at the Kiev railway station. It vividly illustrates the “principle of work” of the committee members and their controlling bodies:
…A few days after the Chernobyl accident, about a dozen representatives of foreign media, deciding to conduct an independent survey of residents and guests of Kiev regarding the events that took place, went to the railway station to find out who was leaving and why?
Having learned in advance about the upcoming “questioning of citizens”, the UKGB officers, having dressed in casual clothes and posing as ordinary citizens, closed all the journalists to themselves. They defiantly cultivated the most patriotic moods, played the role of the injured party, and not the party affected by the accident.
They spoke about the power and triumph of Soviet science, capable of preventing the consequences of any catastrophes, even man-made ones. These “cordial Kievans and railway station workers” agreed so actively to answer questions from foreign representatives that the latter, in the end, were aroused a certain suspicion.
Foreign correspondents showed an objective distrust of official information in connection with such means of work of the staff of the UKGB apparatus. Conclusions were drawn in order not to cause such mistakes in the further work of the committee members, and later, when foreigners visited the exclusion zone, the authorities focused on the imaginary creation of the so-called “appearance of freedom”.
Representatives of the media were not limited in freedom of movement, contacts, by all means and means possible for the regulatory authorities to create a “situation of complete trust in foreign colleagues.” But there was always room for forgery and tricks in it. So, in October 1987, soil and water samples were replaced from the Shelter area, taken illegally by one of the representatives of the French newspaper L’Humanité.
After conducting a freelance search, the “dirty” samples were found and behind the scenes were replaced by “radioactive favorable”. Interestingly, L’Humanité is the official press organ of the French Communist Party. This publication actively supported the pro-Soviet regime during the Chernobyl disaster, while receiving substantial financial assistance from the Soviet leadership.
Corruption and “crusts”
The mentality of citizens could not be changed. Even after such a terrible catastrophe as the Chernobyl accident, it could not do without its most unpleasant manifestations. Corruption schemes, established not without the help of the KGB department, allowed some to become “liquidators,” and some to get the go-ahead for the official sale of contaminated food from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, in particular vegetables.
Thus, there were certified facts in the declassified information of the KGB when, in 1988, you could get a liquidator’s certificate from the hands of the commander of one of the military units for a bribe of 40 rubles. It was possible to avoid radiation control for the same amount during the spontaneous sale of vegetables in the markets of Kiev and Kiev region. Such a criminal attitude to their official duties and overt abuse of authority were repeatedly recorded by KGB agents.
In particular, one of the numerous information provided by agents to the Committee recorded a conversation between sellers of agricultural products in one of the central markets of Kiev. Particularly, it was about the possibility of “paying a bribe” to undergo dosimetric monitoring, and to sell products with an increased level of radioactive contamination.
The archives of the KGB also found evidence that a year after the Chernobyl accident, those for whom the nuclear power plant was not only a prestigious job, but also a source of easy money, began to show themselves., numerous facts of the exponential functioning of the bureaucratic apparatus are cited as evidence of this.
We are talking about the desire of “small and large” bosses to be equated with those for whom the salary was drawn up taking into account the special zone coefficient. Thanks to this indicator, the salary level of those who worked directly at the Chernobyl NPP was different from those who worked at facilities close to the station. Such, according to some employees, a biased approach to the distribution of finances was an obvious corruption scheme.
According to information provided by the agents of the KGB, the corruption scheme before the accident also extended to catering facilities. One of the agents indicated verbatim in his report in October 1987: “The food here is decent and completely free.
No restrictions on quantity and quite high quality. There are no stomach problems. This is due to the fact that it is completely pointless to steal products here. There is nothing to do with them in the zone, since no one needs it, and it is not realistic to take stolen goods out of the zone outside the zone. How could I establish a public catering in typical urban conditions?”
What remains to be known to the public thanks to the declassification of archival documents of the KGB by the Ukrainian side – time will tell. In any case, active work in this direction has been ongoing for more than a year.