Russian State TV To Air Its Own Chernobyl Show That Blames The CIA For The Meltdown

Published June 7, 2019

"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," said the show's director.

Aerial View Of Reactor 4 In 1986

SHONE/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho/Getty ImagesView of the Chernobyl plant after the explosion. April 26, 1986.

With HBO’s Chernobyl drawing renewed interest in the 1986 nuclear disaster that devastated the Soviet city of Pripyat, Russian state TV is now set to produce their own take on the subject — one that claims the CIA was at least partially to blame.

According to The Guardian, Russia’s NTV channel will air a series, likewise called Chernobyl, that will promote a “patriotic” view of the disaster. Namely, the series will follow a CIA agent sent to Chernobyl to gather intelligence on the plant as Soviet agents attempt to counter his efforts.

Adam Nagaitis As Vasily Ignatenko

HBOVasily Ignatenko — as portrayed by Adam Nagaitis in the HBO mini-series — arrives at Chernobyl.

The new series “will tell viewers about what really happened back then,” said director Alexey Muradov. He added that the show “proposes an alternative view on the tragedy in Pripyat.”

“There is a theory that the Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” Muradov said, “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.”

Anatoly Dyatlov Hbo

HBOPaul Ritter portrays Anatoly Dyatlov in HBO’s Chernobyl. Both character and real-life counterpart seemed to have no idea what was at stake until it was too late.

However, while conspiracy theories claiming that the CIA is in some way responsible for Chernobyl have been around for years (as have theories claiming that the KGB was responsible), there’s simply little to no hard evidence to back up any such claims.

In the two-plus decades since the disaster, no evidence has surfaced that would suggest a CIA conspiracy, despite Muradov and company’s claims to the contrary.

Chernobyl Workers Suit Up

Igor Kostin/Sygma/CorbisSpecial clean-up workers, known as “liquidators” tasked with clearing the radioactive materials, suit up.

But beyond the CIA conspiracy claims, the forthcoming series will also attempt to correct what some say is an unfair portrayal of the Soviet cleanup workers who toiled in the aftermath of the explosion. These critics say that the HBO series does little to show the heroic deeds of these so-called “liquidators.”

“Chernobyl did not show the most important part – our victory,” said one headline in Russia’s most popular daily.

Jared Harris

HBOActor Jared Harris plays lead physicist Valery Legasov in the HBO series Chernobyl.

All in all, both the show’s creators and many inside Russia feel that HBO’s series simply got a lot wrong. In the words of prominent journalist Ilya Shepelin, “The fact that an American, not a Russian, TV channel tells us about our own heroes is a source of shame that the pro-Kremlin media apparently cannot live down.”

When this new program will get its chance to give its own take on the historic meltdown remains unclear as no premiere date has yet been set. Until then, the popular HBO series will continue to present the Chernobyl story understood to be true throughout most of the world — even if some inside Russia do not agree.

The official trailer for Craig Mazin’s HBO mini-series Chernobyl.

Next, read the true stories behind three of the people featured in HBO’s Chernobyl: Valery Legasov, Anatoly Dyatlov, and Vasily Ignatenko. Then, read about Chernobyl today and the current state of the infamous exclusion zone and the surrounding Red Forest now full of wildlife.

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.