Truth and fiction of 'Chernobyl': liquidators of the Chernobyl NPP about the most popular TV series in history
"The most popular TV series in the world of all time" was a film history about events in Ukraine. Namely - about the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986 and the first months of its elimination. At least this is how the IMDB service evaluated the mini-series "Chernobyl" produced by the HBO TV channel, which has already surpassed the popular "Game of Thrones" in terms of ratings. How true is the series about those terrible events? The floor is given to the liquidators and researchers of the Chernobyl accident.
Radio Liberty asked to express their opinion on the "Chernobyl saga" of the disaster researchers and participants in the liquidation of the Chernobyl accident. All of them took part in the events on which the Chernobyl series is based. And - have survived to our time.
A cozy courtyard on Andreevsky Descent in Kiev, which nestles against a wooded mountain. There is a large screen on the slope. People are watching the series "Chernobyl". Mostly young people: these are guides who conduct excursions to the Chernobyl zone.
Several of the spectators are considerably older men. These are the liquidators of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, de facto - prototypes of the heroes of the series "Chernobyl". This is how the closed film screening looked like, organized for those whose lives are connected with Chernobyl. They could get on it and Radio Liberty.
The author of the idea, director of science at the Chernobyl-Tour company and liquidator of the Chernobyl accident, Sergei Mirny, explains: tourists who travel to the exclusion zone from all over 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, did they really live ... And in this situation, it is better for the guides to discuss the film with real participants in the events that stopped the “nuclear monster” back in 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?
“The illustration is impressive. The facts are inaccurate "
Serhiy Parashin, former deputy secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine and ex-head of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, during the accident was the secretary of the party committee and deputy director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On the night of April 26, 1986, he was at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant an hour after the explosion. The scenes of the management meeting in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shelter, the moments of making decisions to eliminate the accident, the search for super-powerful 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 coincide. So, the spirit of disaster is conveyed. But here the management personnel of the NPP are shown in the wrong light (in which everything was in fact - ed.). Here (in the film) - the shade of the Soviet Union. That is, this is the West's view of the Soviet Union, so there are many myths here, especially when it comes to leading personalities. So, at meetings in the bunker, I was next to the director and I know how it actually happened. But this is not shown in the film at all, and people behaved differently, ”admits one of those who led the liquidation of the accident on the spot in the first hours after the explosion.
"The film conveys all the horror that was"
Aleksey Breus is a Ukrainian artist, formerly an engineer at the fourth power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant 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.
“I liked the most, in terms of details, the whole first episode: intense, scary. This is work at a 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, the scale of the film, as for me, is the main successful result, ”Breus says in an interview.
“Secondly, it's emotionality. Emotional transmission of this phenomenon, which is called Chernobyl. I did not like the details, mistakenly or intentionally distorted ... The distorted characters of such key characters in the Chernobyl story 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 portrayed, - the liquidator notes. - But overall my impression of the film is positive. Because the globality of this phenomenon is transmitted, all the emotional tension around Chernobyl. Of course, this is not a documentary. But, as for me - and not artistic. This is a striking illustration of the Chernobyl theme. Made with powerful strokes, but with the sacrifice of truthfulness. "
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 drove at night and gathered people remembered another colleague of mine who lived closer, and they took him away. Perhaps, if they took me at night, I would not stand here with you now and would not say all this. The morning shift means less 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 stay in them for several minutes (in some 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.
Sergei traveled far and wide across the contaminated areas, measuring radiation levels. According to him, now the mini-series "Chernobyl" is the best feature film adaptation of the 1986 tragedy. However, even she, Mirny believes, failed to cope with the main challenges posed by the Chernobyl tragedy to art.
“Some concepts are being“ pulled ”on Chernobyl and thus make it less interesting. I speak as a participant in those events: reality is much more interesting, emotional, much more fantastic than any performance! Yes, every piece of art creates its own reality. And this series is the best approximation to reality that exists in fictional cinema. But it is - well, very far from the real events, as I know them. And more importantly, they failed to cope with several of the challenges that the Chernobyl disaster poses to filmmakers. In particular, there is no feeling of visualization of 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.
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 of the film. On the one hand, it is an atmospheric, dramatic series. It is claimed to be artistic, but based on real events. He is connected with reality by the names of the heroes, individual facts and events that really took place. But the way they are presented raises many questions, ”says Korolevskaya.
“In fact, the film does not convey the real atmosphere and relationships of people, both on that difficult night and afterwards. Everything is presented from the point of view of the American view of the Soviet people, of their heroism. I was amazed that in many cases the heroes of the film are accompanied by soldiers with weapons at the nuclear power plant. Western authors, obviously, think that heroism in the USSR was possible only at gunpoint. In the film, real people allegedly act, with real names, in particular, the station personnel. But they look confused, scared, wandering around the station, not knowing what to do. But it didn't happen that night, says Anna Korolevskaya. “In reality, 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 insulate the broken oil pipelines, extinguish local fires that occurred 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.
“This is the danger that people perceive the events of the catastrophe in the same way as in the film. Although the participants, the widows and children of the victims are still alive. How do you look them in the eye now? How will they answer the questions they will be asked after this movie? However, most people watch this series not as fiction, but as a documentary. People already come to the museum and ask: did this moment and this one really happen like in the movies? We try to tell them in the language of the documents what actually went wrong. But people don't believe. They perceive the film as a reality, because it puts pressure on emotions, ”the researcher admits.
Moments from the film: that reality is 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, supposedly to feed them, and brutally shoots them. According to Sergei Mirny, radiation reconnaissance was not involved in this. However, there really were separate units that shot all the dogs and cats so that they would 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, there was a bike in Ukraine that they pour everyone in Chernobyl, everything is so cool. But in fact, around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, I would call it a 60-mile zone, where alcohol was not sold to anyone at all. Some liquidators were getting moonshine somewhere. But we had such a job, there was no time to drink! Knowing that I would meet my birthday in the exclusion zone, like a real chemist, I took 0,7 liters of pure alcohol there. And after work, when everything calmed down, we, 10 healthy officers of radiation reconnaissance, received this bottle and drank 50 grams. But the next day - work! We never finished 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 design of the reactor. The second reason is long-term operation at low power, which led to a change in the physical characteristics of the zone. There was no need to work at low power for so long, ”admits a representative of the then management of the Chernobyl NPP.
- When in the film the leaders of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant tried to understand the cause of the accident, they forcibly sent the personnel to see what happened to the reactor. These people looked out the door and saw how everything was on fire at the site of the reactor. People really went into the reactor hall to assess the situation, everything else is speculation, says Aleksey Breus.
“Unlike the movie, there was really nothing to burn in the reactor. The nuclear reaction continued there. When people went to the reactor and looked inside to understand what state it is in and what needs to be done, the film shows that they were actually forced, they didn't want to, but they went. In fact, it was enough just to understand that it was necessary to do it. And the people themselves agreed and went. Yes, then it cost them their lives. 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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