Russian TV makes its own show on Chernobyl and blames US sabotage
The five-part series last week became the highest ever rated show worldwide and has been popular in Russia, where its attention to details of Soviet life has been noticed. Clothing and everyday household objects, including the pencils and thermos flasks, have been praised as accurate for the late Soviet era.
No evidence has been published of foreign involvement at Chernobyl, although the HBO series suggested it was considered briefly by power station staff. A CIA memo in 1986 said the agency was disappointed to only learn of the blast two days after it happened.
But the pro-government media has attacked the series as western propaganda that exaggerates the scale of the nuclear accident, the negligence of the authorities and stereotypes the Soviet leadership.
Criticism has focused on issues such as the alleged portrayal of complex characters as simplified heroes and villains, the suggestion that scientists could be shot during the late 1980s and the inappropriate use of “comrade”.
The Culture Ministry has now reportedly provided almost US$500,000 in funding to a new production that will focus on KGB agents who are on the trail of a CIA mole at the power plant.
“One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station,” director Alexei Muradov reportedly told the Moscow Times.
The programme has been commissioned by NTV, which is owned by Gazprom Media, a branch of the gas export giant, Gazprom.
The channel is notorious for broadcasting smears on opposition figures and Kremlin critics. The new series is in post-production.
NTV has said the show “recreates the historical chronology of the accident and recounts the heroic days of those who liquidated its consequences”.
“The Ukrainian department of the KGB of the USSR becomes aware of the interest which foreign special services are taking in the Chernobyl power plant,” NTV announced.
“In order to establish the whereabouts in Pripyat of the experienced CIA officer Albert Lents, who is suspected of spying, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrei Nikolayev of military counterintelligence arrives in the city.”
A Russian movie about Chernobyl with 30 per cent state funding is being released next year. Alexander Rodnyansky, the film’s producer, has praised the HBO series and dismissed the NTV series as “propaganda”.
The ghostly site today. Picture credit: Pexels