The HBO film “Chernobyl” is a cultural phenomenon
The HBO film “Chernobyl” is a cultural phenomenon

In the middle of the past year, the historical drama, which was released on the anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, quickly won first places in the rating of audience sympathy. The first two episodes of the series are worse than the film adaptation of Stephen King’s books: people go into battle against an invisible enemy, which is impossible to hide from, they just have to die in the hope of restraining the monster.

And it’s scary not only from the destructive power of radiation that got out of hand, but also from the realization that the authorities were ready to do everything, including sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of people in order to hide their mistakes. The party leaders of Pripyat, hiding in a safe bunker, decide not to evacuate the population, because this will mean a demonstration of weakness, recognition that something went wrong in the Soviet Union. “A nuclear technogenic catastrophe is impossible in the USSR” – it`s the official position of the party, voiced by the character of the film.

There are many reports criticizing such coverage of power, saying that it is being demonized unnecessarily, portrayed mythologically, and the film itself is anti-Soviet propaganda. Basically, this position is promoted by very specific media. There are indeed certain myths in the film.

Let’s say about people, including young children, gathered on a bridge to watch a fire over an exploding reactor. Guides in the exclusion zone say when screenwriters came to them, they interviewed many guides and absorbed this popular myth from them, laying it in the script of the film.

The fate of the three divers is not fully disclosed, it is shown as if they should die. But in fact, all three survived, having received not the most critical doses of radiation, two of them – Valery Bespalov and Alexei Ananenko – are still alive. Well, almost everyone is sure that the Soviet regime, if it could, would have hidden the catastrophe. After all, it has already done that …

Secret Chelyabinsk-40

September 29, 1957, a container with radioactive waste exploded at the chemical plant “Mayak” in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40. The hellish cloud of radionuclides spread 300 km. There was an area in the affected area that can be compared with the Sumy region. Then 270 thousand people lived on it.

This is the largest nuclear technological disaster, but how much do you know about this accident, and do they ring the bells around the world in memory of the dead, injured civilians, and the liquidators of the accident at the Mayak chemical plant in Chelyabinsk-40? About 10 thousand people from 23 settlements had to be resettled from the affected area, but the Soviet propaganda machine still managed to “shut up” the tragedy that happened.

Chelyabinsk`s newspapers wrote about “the northern lights”, “an unusual natural phenomenon in these latitudes” in order to somehow explain the glow of the night sky from the release of radioactive substances. Liquidators, scientists and officials were silenced. Moreover, even the city of Chelyabinsk-40 was not on the maps at all. The top-secret ghost town was formed exclusively for the Soviet nuclear project.

Also, there were not some villages in the affected area on the maps, which were simply forgotten. Now, there are people who are massively suffering from cancer. Evacuation began only a week after the accident, moreover, before that, schoolchildren were massively sent to collective farms to help on the harvest.

The property of the resettled people was burned in the explosion zone, all cattle, dogs and cats were also destroyed there. The USSR officially confirmed the catastrophe only in 1989, and only in 1993 Russia established benefits for the liquidators, and then not for everyone – only for the military.

In 1975, Zhores Medvedev, a Soviet dissident, biologist and writer, reported in the United States about the explosion in Chelyabinsk-40, but the Soviet authorities called it a lie. Interestingly, they learned about the disaster almost immediately in America: the radioactive cloud is difficult to hide, even in the Urals. However, they were silent so as not to undermine confidence in their own nuclear projects.

Not a single Chernobyl ….

January 18, 1970, there was an accident at a plant in Nizhny Novgorod during the construction of a nuclear submarine. The reactor for the boat was partially destroyed, but the explosion occurred indoors, so the consequences were local.

About 1,500 factory workers were injured, they were decontaminated only the next day, and their clothes burned. The liquidators of the accident worked without protective suits, with the help of ordinary shovels and with mops. They all took a non-disclosure subscription. The authorities managed to keep this incident a secret.

Sverdlovsk-19. In April 1979, patients began to enroll in large numbers in the city’s hospitals and in the military hospital, who were ordered to diagnose pneumonia by order of higher authority. Doctors quickly realized that the disease was much worse – anthrax. The staff of the military hospital were told about the leakage of anthrax spores at a bacteriological weapons factory that worked in violation of international conventions.

They all took subscriptions that they would be silent. In a civilian hospital, they did not explain anything to anyone. When the epidemic reached large proportions, authorities announced ostensibly infected cows, which infected people.

Officially, 64 people died, unofficially – more than 100. Only in 1989, the Soviet press first received information about the leak at the plant.

In the already mentioned series of HBO “Chernobyl”, an elderly woman says that she survived the Holodomor, so radiation will certainly survive. Concealment of the Holodomor and the deaths of millions of people is one of the first large-scale campaigns of the USSR to misinform its own citizens and the international community.

Therefore, there is no doubt that the Chernobyl accident could have been hidden. And people would be told about the “incredible northern lights in the latitudes of Kiev”. And they would believe …