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Truth and fiction of 'Chernobyl': liquidators of the Chernobyl NPP about the most popular TV series in history

“The most popular TV series of the world of all time” was a film story about events in Ukraine. Namely - about the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl 26 April 1986 and the first months of its elimination. At least, this is how IMDB has rated the Chernobyl mini-series produced by HBO, which has already outpaced the popular Game of Thrones. How true is the series about those terrible events? A word to the liquidators and researchers of the Chernobyl accident.

Photo: video frame YouTube / HBO

Radio Liberty asked to express their opinion on the "Chernobyl saga" of the catastrophe researchers and participants in the liquidation of the Chernobyl NPP accident. All of them took part in the events on which the Chernobyl series is based. And - have survived to our time.

Cozy courtyard on Andriyivskyy Descent in Kiev, which is pressed against the mountain covered with forest. On the slope - the big screen. People are watching the Chernobyl series. Mostly - young people: these are guides who conduct excursions to the Chernobyl zone.

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A few spectators - men are much older. These are the liquidators of the Chernobyl accident, de facto the prototypes of the heroes of the Chernobyl series. It looked like a closed film viewing, organized for those whose fates are connected with Chernobyl. It could get on and Radio Liberty.

The author of the idea, director of science of the company Chernobyl-Tour and the liquidator of the Chernobyl accident Sergei Mirny explains: tourists who go to the zone of alienation from around the world, ask more and more questions about what they saw in the series. They ask what is true and what is fiction; where exactly certain events from the film took place in the exclusion zone; what happened to the main characters, whether they actually lived ... And in this situation, it is better for the guides to discuss the film with the real participants of the events that stopped the “nuclear monster” in distant 1986.

During this discussion Radio Liberty also was able to ask the liquidators a question about “Chernobyl”: how did they perceive the world-wide popular series about the events of which they were heroes?

Sergei Mirny speaks before the show. Photo: Twitter screenshot

“The illustration is impressive. Facts are inaccurate. ”

Sergei Parashin, a former deputy secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine and the former head of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, was the party committee secretary and deputy director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant during the accident. On the night of 26 on April 1986, he was at the Chernobyl NPP just an hour after the explosion. Scenes of the leadership meeting in the Chernobyl NPP bomb shelter, moments of decision-making on emergency response, the search for super-power dosimeters, when the usual ones failed in reality - all these things happened with his participation.

However, in the series Sergey Parashin did not recognize himself or his colleagues, so the writers changed the characters' characters, he claims in an interview with Radio Liberty.

“There is not much real here, but the very spirit of this film is useful for so many people. However, many details, of course, do not match. So, the spirit of catastrophe is transmitted. But here the management personnel of the nuclear power plant is not shown in that light (in which everything was in reality - ed.). Here (in the film) - the shade of the Soviet Union. That is, this is the view of the West on the Soviet Union, therefore there are many myths here, especially when it comes to leading personalities. So, at the meetings in the bunker I was next to the director and I know how it actually happened. But in the film this is shown quite differently, and people behaved differently, ”admits one of those who led the elimination of the accident at the site in the first hours after the explosion.

Photo: Twitter screenshot

"The film conveys all the horror that was"

Aleksey Breus is a Ukrainian artist, in the past an engineer at the fourth power unit of the Chernobyl NPP and one of the liquidators of the consequences of the accident.

He replaced the morning of April 26, a few hours after the explosion. This shift was the last to work on the control panel of the fourth reactor.

“Most of all I liked, if we talk about the details, the entire first series: tense, terrible. This is the work at the nuclear power plant in the first hours after the explosion. In general, this is all true. She, this series, conveys the horror that reigned there. This is about the scale of the event, it is very important. In general, in the film, scale, as for me, is the main successful result, ”Breus says in an interview.

“Secondly, it's emotional. The emotional transmission of this phenomenon, which is called Chernobyl. I did not like the details, mistakenly or intentionally distorted ... Distorted characters of such key characters in the Chernobyl history as director Viktor Bryukhanov, chief engineer Nikolai Fomin, his deputy Anatoly Dyatlov. Their characters are absolutely false: they were not such thieves as they were depicted, the liquidator notes. “But overall, my impression of the film is positive. Because the global nature of this phenomenon, all the emotional stress around Chernobyl is transmitted. Of course, this is not a documentary. But, as for me - and not artistic. This is a striking illustration of the Chernobyl theme. Made powerful strokes, but with the sacrifice of truth. "

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There is a moment in the film when the deputy chief engineer for the operation of the Chernobyl NPP, Anatoly Dyatlov, orders to call the next shift of workers of the 4 unit. One of those who went, was Alex Breus. But since other colleagues lived closer to the station, they came out after the explosion. And Breus was instructed to go out in the morning.

“I don’t know, fortunately or not, one of those who traveled at night and gathered people remembered another colleague of mine who lived closer, and they took him away. Perhaps, if they had taken me at night, I would not be standing here with you now and would not have said all this. The morning shift is still a smaller level of radiation, less work, ”recalls the power unit operator.

Last year, Radio Liberty visited a number of premises of the fourth power unit. The level of radioactivity in them has decreased and allows you to be in them for several minutes (in places - up to a minute) without risk to life and health.

“Reality is much more interesting”

Sergey Mirny, author of books on Chernobyl, director of science at Chernobyl Tour, in the summer of 1986, he commanded a dosimetric reconnaissance platoon in the exclusion zone.

Sergey traveled the infected territories up and down, measuring radiation levels. According to him, now the Chernobyl mini-series is the best artistic film version of the 1986 tragedy of the year. However, even she, Mirny believes, has failed to cope with the main challenges that the Chernobyl tragedy poses to art.

“At Chernobyl, they“ pull ”some concepts and thus make it less interesting. I speak as a participant in those events: the reality is much more interesting, more emotional, much more fantastic than any performances! Yes, each artwork creates its own reality. And this series is the best approximation to reality that exists in art cinema. But it is - well, very far from the real events, as I know them. And what is more important: they did not cope with several challenges that the Chernobyl accident poses to cinematographers. In particular, there is no sense of visualizing that danger from invisible radiation ..., ”the liquidator believes.

According to Mirny, the film’s shortcomings are not a blemish of directors only. They made a picture corresponding to the current ideas of Western society about Soviet reality and about the Chernobyl accident in particular. Although real situations were much more complicated and interesting.

Show series for guides to the Chernobyl zone and the participants of events at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Photo: Twitter screenshot

Human heroism during the USSR

The series "Chernobyl" has become the most popular, because the topic of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe of the year is still interesting in the world, and now it is still growing in interest among young people, recognizes in an interview with Radio Liberty Anna Korolevskaya, Deputy Director of the Chernobyl Museum for Scientific Work.

She shares her observations: young people from different parts of the world, visiting Kiev, come to the museum of the Chernobyl disaster and raise many questions. Recently, more and more people are asking about the moments that people saw in the latest film adaptation.

“I have a double impression about the film. On the one hand, this is an atmospheric, dramatic series. It is declared as artistic, but based on real events. The names of the heroes, certain facts and events that actually took place connect him with reality. But the way they are presented raises many questions, ”says Royal.

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“In fact, the film does not convey the real atmosphere and relationships of people, both on that hard night and later. Everything is presented from the point of view of the American view on the Soviet people, on their heroism. It struck me that in many cases the heroes of the film at the nuclear power plant were accompanied by soldiers with weapons. Western authors obviously think that heroism in the USSR was possible only at gunpoint. In the film, real people allegedly act, with real names; this, in particular, is the station staff. But they look confused, frightened, wandering around the station, not knowing what to do. But that was not the case that night, says Anna Korolevskaya. - In fact, at the station everyone knew where to go and what to do. Only these people were able to turn off the equipment and de-energize it. Only they were able to isolate the broken oil pipelines, extinguish local fires that arose here and there, release hydrogen from the turbines so that it does not explode. ”

Working in the museum, Royal explores and organizes facts and documents about Chernobyl, eyewitness accounts. And she sees the problem in the fact that after the release of the TV series “Chernobyl”, people perceive his spectacular footage as reality.

“In that there is a danger that people perceive the events of the catastrophe as in the film. Although the participants, widows and children of the victims are still alive. How do they look into their eyes now? How will they answer the questions they will be asked after this film? However, most people watch this show not as an artistic, but as a documentary. People already come to the museum and ask: this moment and this - really happened like in the movies? We try to tell them in the language of the documents what was really wrong. But people do not believe. They perceive the film as a reality, because it puts pressure on emotions, ”the researcher admits.

Moments from the film: what is reality - fiction?

  • Station personnel who receive large doses of radiation immediately see on their bodies hemorrhage and bleeding. According to Alexei Breus and other eyewitnesses, in reality it looked like thermal or sunburn. Breus himself, after the shift, saw that his entire skin had turned brown, as after many hours in the scorching sun.
  • In the morning after the explosion and in the following days, a column of black smoke rises above the destroyed reactor. This is spectacular, but in fact there was no such smoke, according to the liquidators and researchers.
  • Anatoly Dyatlov after the explosion begins to scold his subordinates, to threaten them and not allow the thought that the reactor could explode. In the memoirs about him, colleagues say that, on the contrary, he had the habit of never criticizing a person while he was in the workplace. Dyatlov was a high-class professional, and on the night of the accident he was neither confused nor irritated, the interlocutors say Radio Liberty.
  • In the fourth episode of the film, a military unit travels around abandoned villages and cities in an area where many pets remain. During one of the desperate scenes, the soldier beckons the dogs closer, ostensibly to feed, and cruelly shoots. According to Sergey Mirny, radiation reconnaissance was not engaged in this. However, there really were separate units that shot all the dogs and cats, so that they did not carry rabies and radiation from the zone.
  • Liquidators constantly drink vodka, and the military in the zone are centrally imported by trucks. Sergey Mirny denies this.

“Even then, in Ukraine, the bike was that they poured everything in Chernobyl, everything is so cool. And in fact, around the Chernobyl NPP was created, I would call it that, the 60-mile zone, where alcohol was never sold to anyone. Some liquidators somewhere mined moonshine. But we had such a job, there was no time to drink! I, knowing that I would meet my birthday in the exclusion zone, like a real chemist, took 0,7 liters of pure alcohol there. And after work, when everything was quiet, we, 10 healthy radiation intelligence officers, got this bottle and drank grams of 50. But the next day - work! We did not finish it then ... ”.

  • In the fourth series, nuclear physicist Uliana Homyuk (a fictional character), academician Valery Legasov and Deputy Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Boris Shcherbina discuss why the reactor exploded and put forward their version. In general, it is true, admits Sergey Parashin.

“The main cause of the accident is a defect in the reactor design. The second reason is long-term operation at low power, which led to a change in the physical characteristics of the zone. It did not take so long to work at low power, ”admits the representative of the then leadership of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

  • When in the film, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant leaders tried to understand the cause of the accident, they forcibly sent personnel to see what happened to the reactor. These people looked behind the door and saw how everything was burning on the site of the reactor. People really came into the reactor room to assess the situation, everything else is speculation, says Alexey Breus.

“In contrast to the film, there really was nothing to burn in the reactor. There continued the nuclear reaction. When people went to the reactor and looked inside to see what condition it was in and what to do - the film shows that they were actually forced, they did not want to, but they were going. In fact, it was enough just to understand that this was necessary. And the people themselves agreed and walked. Yes, then it cost them their lives. The first, as far as I know, went Alexander Kudryavtsev, then Anatoly Sytnikov. Soon they died ..., ”Breus recalls.

  • In different series "Chernobyl" show how people gradually die from radiation. Some of them resemble “living corpses” with bloody wounds instead of skin. According to the liquidators, this is often the way the last stage of acute radiation sickness looked. That is, scenes that terrify the viewer are close to reality.

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