Chernobyl: Today, I know the price of lies
Chernobyl: Today, I know the price of lies

Perhaps, many have seen the television mini-series “Chernobyl”, filmed by the authors in the genre of historical drama. American directors and the creative team of Western European actors managed to convey the style, spirit and surroundings of those times, to recreate the circumstances of the accident, and the course of eliminating its consequences.

This work became a real shock for many also because all existing documentaries, based, it would seem, on fixing real frames and events, did not achieve such an effect. But it turned out that, as in life, the truth is much worse than the documentary film itself, and this is the truth that the authors and filmmakers were able to present. Why is that?

Perhaps, because all our creative works about Chernobyl carried an ideological or propaganda load – first Soviet, and then only Ukrainian. Both heroes and antiheroes of Chernobyl were hateful ideology. The goal of the authors was different, and the presentation was the same. You can tell as much as you like. However, it would be unreliable without the ability to SHOW. The HBO film faithfully and artistically reproduces the characteristic circumstances and the impact of the Chernobyl events on the change in the mentality of Soviet people, right down to individual representatives of the top party leadership.

The plot is based on the conflict between the seekers of truth, that is, the causes and consequences of the disaster, and the party leadership and the KGB. Moreover, the first, in the person of academician Valery Legasov, dare to refute the government report on the true circumstances and scale of the tragedy. And the latter, in the person of B.Shcherbina, deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, the head of the Fuel and Energy Committee under the Council of Ministers, and the head of the government commission for liquidating the consequences of the accident, vividly symbolize the then Soviet axiom. The USSR and the party are sinless under any circumstances.

Perhaps, this dispute is the key moment of the Chernobyl epic. Everything else is derivative circumstances. Nobody knows how events would have developed if Mikhail Gorbachev had unambiguously perceived the polished information about the “stable situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant” and closed the meeting of the emergency commission?

Will Ukraine and Belarus become completely unfit for life?

The level of awareness of the head of the fuel and energy complex B. Shcherbina about the problems that arose as a result of the accident is evidenced by the fact that he received the simplest information about the principles of operation of the nuclear power plant from Valery Legasov already in a helicopter, heading for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

On the other hand, as life itself has shown, Boris Evdokimovich Shcherbina turned out to be the type of high-ranking Soviet leader who found the strength and listened to a specialist. He was able to change his mind, adequately perceived criticism and very professionally delved into the incredible truth about the scale disaster. He made a balanced assessment of the current circumstances and, using his authority and power, actually managed the most complex mechanism of work to eliminate the consequences of the accident in the most critical period.

A complex, strong-willed, principled leader, somewhere possessed by the spirit, Shcherbina was an unbending authority. It was he who owns the phrase: “… let’s have another”. This became popular after the tragic accident of a helicopter, which, at his insistence, flew too close to the throat of a nuclear reactor. Nevertheless, he insisted on the continuation of Valery Legasov’s speech at the trial, when they wanted to deprive him of the right to declare the whole truth about the circumstances of the Chernobyl accident.

The filmmakers were able to show a gradual change in Shcherbina’s consciousness and a reassessment of values that happened to this party functionary. He, accepting Legasov’s position, warned that Ukraine and Belarus might turn out to be completely unfit for life. He was in his place at the most crucial moment and showed the best qualities of a leader.

Everything that was shown is true!

Another vector of the fight against the accident was at the station itself, where people, against their will, fell into a death trap. They had only one way out to die, having done their duty. Today, thanks also to the film, we know about the feat of Alexei Ananenko, Valery Bespalov and Boris Baranov, who went down to the under-reactor room and closed the valves. These people, understanding the outcome of their fate, walked with flashlights in radioactive water to their waist, under the terrible crackle of a Geiger counter. This almost documentary story made it clear that Ukraine would be in total darkness without people who heroically realized their doom, but did their job. And this is no exaggeration.

The same can be said about the soldiers called up for military service, volunteer liquidators who replaced the failed robots on the roof of the third power unit. There are many stories in the Chernobyl chronicle from people who worked on that roof. But the filmmakers were able to show this with documentary authenticity and artistic power. The credibility of the film was confirmed by the liquidator Viktor Pavlovich Bevzenko:

“… I had 18 exits to the roof of the third reactor. Everything that has been shown about the collection of graphite is true. With the help of the monitor, we were given the task personally, which piece of graphite or metal to take and where to throw it away. All the same, you are in a state of shock, and after working out your minute you get such shortness of breath, as shown in the movie. Respirators were literally sucked into your mouth. Then they kept us in the shower for half an hour to restore breathing, but still, you don’t remember much.

It was engraved in my memory how, having climbed 20 meters along a poorly fixed vertical staircase, I looked down and thought that I would not go down it. And later, I never remembered how I went down the same stairs. You are experiencing a shock in these moments.

And that’s true about Japanese robots. We pulled them off the roof with nylon ropes. Then, we lifted the Belorus tractor onto the roof. The tractor drivers, changing after 5 minutes, rolled everything off the roof. Many pieces of graphite melted into bitumen, they had to be picked out with crowbars. I thought that everything was organized there. My shovel was not even fixed with a nail, so it rotated on the shaft. I grabbed a piece with my hands and threw it away … “

After Chernobyl, Viktor Pavlovich worked for 23 years as a paramedic in an ambulance. Now, he is a disabled person of the 2nd group. He says that even today, it is possible to establish the radiation dose received then. There are such technologies, but no one is taken.

The truth about Chernobyl is hidden until now. Why? It is unknown. The filmmakers named the cause of the disaster in the words of Academician Legasov: a total lie in the USSR, including regarding the technical characteristics of nuclear reactors.

Only the KGB knew everything, which guarded the Soviet shortcomings as if they were secret military data. In fact, the opposite is true. “Now, I know the price of a lie,” Legasov said after the imminent trial. He committed suicide exactly two years after the disaster. Nevertheless, Chernobyl played its historical role. The Communist Party and the Soviet government lost the confidence of the population, and the dismantling of the system was only a matter of time. The only thing that the USSR was able to oppose to the catastrophe was the heroism and endurance of tens and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, liquidators, who, at the cost of their own health and lives, stopped a catastrophe of a planetary scale.