The Chernobyl disaster: The court is now in session
The Chernobyl disaster: The court is now in session

The materials that became available during the strategic declassification of the documents of the Ukrainian KGB archive make it possible to observe the situation in which the trial of persons suspected of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant took place on 26.04.1986.

KGB agents report: “On ensuring the safety of the trial in Chernobyl:

“July 9, 1987. The Office of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR in Kiev and the Kiev region continued to carry out the planned measures to ensure state security in connection with the trial in the city of Chernobyl. There are 5659 foreigners in Kiev and the region, including 3 diplomats, 64 specialists, 3 correspondents who arrived at the tour.

Foreigners say:

Citizens of foreign countries express different points of view in the process of communication. Professionals from the Federal Republic of Germany, O.Faistafri and L. Bernhard, who arrived at a business tour, said in an interview:

“The court, of course, is necessary, but after all, those who appeared before the court are not alone to blame. We believe that, first of all, we must condemn the careless approach to the operation of nuclear power plants. And this question needs to be raised more broadly”.

The guide of a group of tourists from the German Democratic Republic, M. Galonsia, said in an interview with an employee of Intourist that the press in the GDR reported the start of the trial in Chernobyl. Expressing sympathy, she says that the accident speaks of the negligence of the management of the nuclear power plant, but no one is safe from accidents that are found all over the world.

There were no data on plans to illegally enter the zone or attempts to collect negative information in the process of developing persons suspected of involvement in special services, as well as in the study of the behavior of individual foreigners.

While communicating with Soviet specialists, foreigners objectively evaluate the ongoing lawsuit. Thus, Les Slater, the head of the General Electric department of the Eastern European company from the USA, said that he liked how the Soviet press has recently covered events related to the liquidation of the consequences of the accident at the nuclear power plant. It is good that the trial of those responsible is taking place in Chernobyl. This will once again show all people the dangers of atomic energy and what neglect leads to. I am sure that this court will serve as a lesson not only for the USSR.

The head of the French group of tourists, Ruby Francois, said that they canceled cruises on the Dnieper for a long time due to an accident. Now, they intend to organize them again. Regarding the court, he said that in any situation there are specific culprits, and they must be justly punished.

Journalists arrived from Germany to Kiev were interested in the following issues in an interview with the leadership of Intourist:

  • what sanctions can be applied to the defendants,
  • who can attend the process and when will tourists be allowed to visit Chernobyl,
  • what measures are taken to prevent such accidents?

According to operational agents, among the qualified specialists in the field of nuclear energy, radiology and medicine, as well as on the basis of analysis of world information flows about the events in Chernobyl, taking into account numerous issues at press conferences and meetings with foreign specialists and journalists, the most important problems can be identified that the adversary will be interested in the future.

Economic and logistical problems:

  • information on actual contamination of agricultural land with radionuclides above the maximum permissible level;
  • information on the results of studies of diseases obtained by farm animals;

Foreign representatives are also interested in the technological aspects of the accident, in particular:

  • measures taken to ensure the safe operation of power units;
  • information on the real radiation situation in the 30-kilometer zone,
  • information on new methods for the processing and disposal of radioactive waste;
  • the number of deaths from acute radiation sickness;
  • information on evacuation measures.

We continue to monitor the behavior of foreigners. The situation is normal at industrial enterprises, in organizations and institutions, in places of residence of evacuees, treatment of victims.

Interrogation is going on

… The situation in labor collectives is controlled. The trial continued during the day. The interrogation of V.P. Bryukhanov was completed, and the interrogation of N. Fomin began, which confirmed the testimony given to him during the preliminary investigation. He stated that he, as a chief engineer, did not have sufficient training in nuclear safety issues, since the institute graduated in absentia.

In his opinion, the main cause of the accident was the design flaws of the reactor, the incompatibility of tests and routine maintenance, and shutdown of the AZ-5. He became aware of the destruction of the core in the afternoon of 04/26/86, when he saw pieces of graphite in the station.

The interrogation of A.C.Dyatlov began, which partially confirmed the testimony given during the preliminary investigation. In his opinion, the examination erroneously indicated that the thermal power of the reactor was reduced to “0”, in fact, it was at least 30 megawatts. In this regard, he did not see violations of the regulations for raising the reactor.

The shutdown of the AZ-5 and the emergency reactor cooling system was included in the program; it did not affect the causes of the accident. The only omission was that the program did not stipulate reactor shutdown. According to him, the approval of the tests should have been carried out by the production and technical department and the chief engineer, he is not responsible for this.

Interrogation of A.S.Dyatlov goes on. The situation in the courtroom and its surroundings was normal throughout the day. Active discussion by personnel working in the court’s progress area was not recorded. The bulk of people favor Brukhanov, Dyatlov and Fomin being punished for their negligent attitude to their official duties.

Prerequisites for the maturing of negative manifestations are not identified. Control over the behavior and development of the defendants continues.

… V.P.Bruchanov feels satisfactory. He believes that the court is not aggressive towards him. Many tricky questions are asked by experts. Everyone is interested in the process ending as soon as possible. Regarding the speech of N.M.Fomin, the court said it was normal. He continues to be interested in the conditions of detention in the zone, the opportunities to free early. N.M.Fomin was thrilled after the meeting.

It was especially difficult for him to answer the questions of the prosecutor. Believes that Bruchanov can trick and dupe, but he realized his guilt. In his opinion, A.C.Dyatlov is most to blame. He fears that he will be given a term of 10 years. A.C. Dyatlov is depressed, often thinks. He works a lot with documents and literature. He still believes that the accident is a consequence of obsolete equipment. In his opinion, he suffers from the fact that he entrusted people with more than necessary.

The planned work continued at the station and in the zone – the situation is normal.

The situation at industrial enterprises, organizations and institutions, places of residence of evacuees, treatment of victims is calm. There is no increased interest in the ongoing trial.

Residents of the city and region express different points of view in communicating with agents. E.L.Zarechansky, born in 1924, a member of the CPSU and a lecturer of the institute, says:

“The lawsuit has been instituted correctly. Perpetrators must be deservedly punished. But how justice will be a triumph – the final result of the process will show”.

G.I.Knyatskaya, born in 1950, non-partisan and a doctor: “… unfortunately, this process began too late, more than a year has passed after the accident. I do not understand how the perpetrators can be held accountable under an article under which they will receive a maximum of 10 years. They must be sentenced to capital punishment. It is also necessary to cover in detail the course of the trial in the press, or even some rumors and speculation”.

Intra-chamber development and monitoring of the behavior of the defendants in the pre-trial detention center of the Ivankovek District Department of Internal Affairs continued.

… V.P.Bruchanov believes that the main responsibility for the accident lies with the deputy chief engineer Dyatlov, it is not clear why he does not admit his guilt. He hopes for a quick end to the trial. He is interested in living conditions in the camp. N.M.Fomin believes that if there is a desire, many conclusions of the indictment can be refuted. He is satisfied with the behavior of witnesses. In his opinion, the main thing for Dyatlov is not to be accused of technical illiteracy, since he can refute many expert conclusions.

A.C.Dyatlov continues to prepare for a statement to refute the expert opinion. He believes that Fomin says a lot of superfluous than interferes with his preparation. He does not consider himself guilty in an accident. The health of the defendants is normal. The trial continued, interrogation of witnesses was carried out, who confirmed the testimony given during the preliminary investigation.

Witnesses say:

The witness P.A.Gavrilov, an employee of the Research and Development Institute of Energy Engineering, said that a water hammer, which was one of the causes of the accident, is possible in the mode in which the main circulation pumps worked on April 26.

The defendant B.V.Rogozhkin, a former shift supervisor № 5, and his counsel constantly ask experts whether the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and, in particular, the 4th unit are explosive enterprises.

The petition of V.P.Bruchanov and A.C.Dyatlov is satisfied on the inclusion in the case file of previously not withdrawn acts and orders on the investigation of emergency stops and equipment failures, as well as the order on the mandatory presence of the head of the workshop or his deputies at a stop or start-up.

A decision was made to publicize the testimonies of witnesses and victims who could not arrive at the court for good reason. The situation in the labor collectives working in the zone is normal. The opinion that the cause of the accident was the imperfection of the reactor itself was quite widespread.

Planned work continues at the station and in the area. We are in control of the situation”.

Undercover post: blind piglets and ugly stallions

The agent under the pseudonym “Petrenko” reports:

… June 13, 1987, a source with a film group: the director Shklyarevsky G., a cameraman Stepanenko N. and a sound engineer illuminator Primachenko A. went to the event shooting in the Zhytomyr region.

A commission of scientists, journalists, doctors, etc. arrived in the village of Narodichi. The first survey was carried out on a collective farm. Guests were given the opportunity to examine calves irradiated as a result of irradiation of cows, as well as food affected by radiation. The second survey was carried out near the pigsty, where farm workers carried out on their hands blind piglets and an ugly foal, a photo exhibition and formalin cans, in which there were newborn piglets affected by the consequences of Chernobyl. There were many collective farmers, working farmers, milkmaids, guests near the pig farm.

All exhibits were photographed by members of the delegation, there was a lively conversation with the people. Scientists were asked a lot of questions about the diseases of animals, children and adults. Farm workers demanded an answer from scientists – how long the silence about ongoing events in Narodichi will continue, when they say to the people – you can live and work in such conditions and how to continue to live if cancer has increased in the area.

Scientists could not give an exact answer, citing the fact that everything needs to be studied and only then the issue of resettlement of citizens from contaminated areas can be resolved. A further meeting of scientists and journalists took place in the Narodichi Palace of Culture, the hall was crowded with people, those who couldn’t get into the hall stood near the Palace of Culture in the streets and listened through loudspeakers to the speeches of scientists, doctors, journalists, citizens, and residents of affected areas from pollution.

There was a demand for the resettlement of people from the zones of pollution and increased radiation in the speeches of the residents of the district, and if the government and scientists did not solve this problem as soon as possible, then all the residents of Narodichi and the neighboring region would not go to work and go on strike. One of the speakers from the audience said that Karabakh alone is not enough for you, that the whole people will rise and take part in a demonstration more than in Karabakh.

Now, they are not afraid of the KGB, since they have nothing to lose, the KGB can arrest one, two people, but this will not stop them from organizing a strike. The source believes that the situation in the Narodichi of the Zhytomyr region is very tense and public outrage may follow.

Concrete measures are urgently needed in this area to reassure the people. After all, the products grown in this area are not suitable for consumption, and people know that the grown potatoes infected with nuclides are sent to Uzbekistan. This may further increase the popular unrest”.

… As you can see, thanks to declassified archival documents, many events that took place around the Chernobyl disaster can be looked at more objectively now. Rereading the KGB archives, you involuntarily catch yourself thinking that you are reading a man-made journal for recording human stupidity, crimes and misfortunes. It is as if you were holding a collection of Chernobyl travel diaries in your hands, the adversities, the successes and failures of which are equally instructive.