Chernobyl tragedy: scapegoats
Chernobyl tragedy: scapegoats

Years after the Chernobyl accident, they began to call engineers and individual leaders of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in search of the guilty, among those who were unlucky, who were on duty at the station on the night of a terrible tragedy and miraculously survived. And also those who were directly related to the experiment conducted at the station. A year after the disaster, in the exclusion zone, a trial was held on the so-called “switchmen of Chernobyl”.

Had someone to trial before the world? They were looking for scapegoats, and they found…. They reckoned everything as it turns out, and first of all — conducting an experiment with many violations. The “To up-jumped experimenters”, the prosecutor Yury Shadrin accused then, accused of the biggest catastrophe in the history of nuclear energy.

The process passed, the perpetrators were identified, and the sentence was carried out. The Chernobyl House of Culture became the place from where the accused scapegoats, accompanied by the prying eyes of international journalists, were sent to serve their sentences. Some facts of this 18-day court hearing, as well as archival evidence of the participants in the experiment at the NPP, are offered to the reader in this material.

“We did not know how the equipment works from coasting, so in the first seconds I perceived … there was some kind of bad sound like that, I don’t remember the sound itself, but I remember how it was described in the first days of the accident: as if the Volga had started to slow down in full swing and I would go. Such a sound: do-do-do-do … turning into a roar. There was a vibration of the building, I thought it was not good, that it was probably a run-out situation. Then a blow sounded. I thought that a blade had flown out due to the fact that I was closer to the turbine. I bounced, and at that time a second blow followed. That was a very strong blow. Stucco rained down, the whole building came in, the lights went out. Everyone was in shock. All with outstretched faces stood. I was very scared. A blow was like an earthquake. The roof of the engine room fell down and something must have fallen on it … I see the sky and stars in these holes, I see that there are pieces of the roof and black bitumen, such dusty under my feet. I think — wow … where does this black come from? Is it in the sun, bitumen has dried so much, coating? Or was the insulation so dry that it turned into dust? Then I got it. It was graphite …. Passed near the rubble … I showed this radiance… showed under my feet. He told Dyatlov: “This is Hiroshima. “He was silent for a long time … Then he said: “I was not even a dream of such a thing in a nightmare.” He apparently was… what can I say … An accident of enormous proportions”.

These words have long become history; they are spoken emotionally, but quite frankly. So, recalling the events of the Chernobyl disaster, Yury Tregub, the shift supervisor of the 4th block, spoke at the trial, miraculously surviving. On July 11, 1987, he testified against the one who stood with him side by side on the night of the tragedy, against a brave, determined and at the same time tough person – deputy chief engineer of the station Anatoly Dyatlov.

Dyatlov will be prissoned for ten years as one of the main accused, and will be the third of the six convicted “Chernobyl scapegoats”. Years will pass and some of those who will be condemned will cause sympathy and pity in people. There will be those who call them hostages of circumstances. They do not plead guilty in full. And is it possible to measure it in principle? Where to find such a measure of grief and human suffering?

The prisoners of the Chernobyl disaster

Anatoly Dyatlov is a knowledgeable physicist with a practical experience in the field of nuclear energy. By the time of the disaster, he was the deputy chief of the chief engineer of the operation station. It has been at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant since its construction. Who else but him should be responsible on the night of April 26 for testing a turbogenerator?

The experiment was complex and, as expected, it was planned in advance. The content of the experiment was as follows. It was planned at the initial stage to shut off the reactor for carrying out planned repair and technical measures. It was necessary to check the principle of operation of the turbogenerator in case of de-energized speakers at the moment of shutdown of the reactor.

What this experiment ended with is known to the whole world. It is also known that the government commission dealing with the consequences of the disaster came to the conclusion that irreparable errors were made by the Chernobyl NPP personnel and management both during the experiment and during its preparation.

A number of shortcomings indicated the presence of signatures in individual regulatory documents on the principle that “I signed without looking”, the work schedule was not followed, and emergency reactor protection was not considered at all. Of course, the prosecution was in almost 100% with this, the investigators almost verbatim took into account the verdict of the government commission in their conviction. This is understandable, at that time it could not be otherwise.

Dyatlov had severe burns on both legs, he was hospitalized in the clinic almost immediately after the accident, and was discharged shortly before the trial. He ended up in a pre-trial detention center with the second group of disabilities and open wounds received from radiation exposure. He became the third of those arrested, before which the director of the AU Viktor Bryukhanov and chief engineer Nikolai Fomin were arrested.

Brukhanov was charged with conducting an experiment with violations, and was also accused of irresponsibility as a leader who was unable to professionally organize a set of necessary measures immediately after the accident. He showed his unsuitability by issuing an order to send his employees directly “to the crater of an exploding volcano” — to examine the infected territories of the nuclear power plant. And they walked, one after another, becoming infected and dying, after their last raid.

Brukhanov was unable to orientate on time and prohibit the exit of the entire shift on the day after the accident. This could save a life for dozens of people. But the main thing is that he did not provide real, objective data about the off-scale radiation background directly at the speakers and in Pripyat itself. A lot of arguments in defense were prepared for this challenge by Bruchanov, but not one of them was accepted by the court for consideration.

Academician Valery Legasov recalled the director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as a person with an extremely unbalanced psyche, very scared and therefore unable to make responsible decisions in a critical situation. He stated that the Chernobyl director was psychologically depressed, his speech was often not connected.

Being in a state of shock all the time, he, as a leader, could not organize any objectively correct actions, his actions described him as a practically incapable, sometimes insane person”. Legasov, as the first deputy director of the Institute of Atomic Energy named after Kurchatov, was a member of the government commission, and subsequently it was his achievements and conclusions that became the link in the way of reviewing the results of the investigation of the Chernobyl disaster. So they cost him his life.

The chief engineer of the Fomin station was also arrested at the same time as Bryukhanov, both of them, even before the start of the court session, had been in the pre-trial detention center for a long time. The defendants themselves during the trial became aware that six people were charged in their case.

In addition to the above, among the suspects were Alexander Kovalenko who was a head of the reactor shop number 2, Yuri Laushkin who was an inspector of the State Atomic Energy Supervision at the Chernobyl nuclear power station and shift supervisor Boris Rogozhkin.

The shift supervisor of the 4-th block, Alexander Akimov, the senior reactor control engineer Leonid Toptunov, and the shift supervisor of the reactor shop Valery Perevozchenko could also theoretically become participants in the criminal case. They would also have found something to incriminate. Their death, a few days after the disaster, immortalized their names among those who died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

The experiment whatever it takes

Death became an insurmountable barrier between those who saw, but did not survive, and those who saw, survived, but sat in the dock, taking upon themselves part of the guilt that time, events, circumstances laid upon them.

“An experiment whatever it takes, no matter what,” is the true cause of the tragedy, the price of which is hundreds of human lives. The pain from Chernobyl continues to sound still, some relate this pain to each other, it forever bred others.

But so far, having survived a terrible ecological disaster, having lost shelter, relatives and friends, we continue to discuss — so what is all the same primary? The life and interests of an individual or the interests of the state? It is unlikely that today, to the end, those who, on behalf of the state, will understand and forgive, have ordered young cadets from the Kharkov Military Fire School to raise the alarm and take part in clearing the ventilation pipe over the exploding reactor.

Some generals urgently wanted to hoist the USSR flag over him, as if reporting on the fact that the army had done its job. Arguing over what is primarily a person or a state, we are not thinking about the future, but about the past, we are moving our backs forward. This, perhaps, is the main Chernobyl lesson.