Cinema and TV series

How did the real life of the main characters of the series “Chernobyl”

Suicide, prison and survivors.

A team of liquidators are preparing to replace the restoration work.  Photo by Igor Kostin, RIA Novosti

“Chernobyl” from HBO believably and in detail tells about the tragic history of the Chernobyl NPP in 1986. The frightening events of the catastrophe, shown on the screen, cause the desire to once again become interested in the topic and find out how everything was in reality. The mini-film is praised not only in Russia, but also in the West: they pay particular attention to the main characters, whose prototypes were real engineers, liquidators, firefighters and Soviet officials.

How the fate of several participants in the events of 1986 happened, and to what extent this coincides with what is shown on the screen.

Valery Legasov – Academician

Intersections with the events of the series

The protagonist of the series is academician Valery Legasov, the scientist who appeared at the crash site among the first and whose decisions made a great contribution to the elimination of the accident in Chernobyl. Instead of three weeks, he spent about four months near the destroyed reactor, due to which he received a moderately heavy dose of radiation – 100 rem. In the first days after the accident, he climbed five or six times a day by helicopter over the reactor. Then he offered to pour a mixture of boron, lead and dolomitic clay from above into the burning reactor, and also insisted on the complete evacuation of Pripyat.

In August 1986, Valery Legasov spoke at the IAEA expert conference in Vienna. He read the report for five hours analyzing the causes of the accident and the radiological consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Perhaps this performance was a turning point in his life. If in the West the academician was respected for courage and presented as a person who saved the whole world from the serious consequences of a radiation accident, then in the USSR suspicion arose. The data voiced by him angered the government – he divulged secret information that he should not have talked about. Subsequently, Valery Legasov twice nominated for the title of Hero of Socialist Labor, but both times refused to award the prize and presented only the nominal watch “Glory”.

For my father, this [attitude in the USSR] came as a complete surprise. He did not know how to react. I think it was a blow to the gut, and it was planned and prepared in advance.

Inga Legasova daughter Valeria Legasova in an interview with ” Moskovsky Komsomolets “

What ended

On April 27, 1988, on the second anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Legasov was found hanged in his Moscow apartment. The official version is suicide. The next day, the academician was to speak with the results of the investigation on the causes of the disaster. Shortly before his death, Valery Legasov (as shown in the series) recorded a monologue on tapes about his role in eliminating and the causes of the accident – there were still transcripts . In 1996, Russian President Boris Yeltsin posthumously awarded Valery Legasov the title of Hero of Russia.

Boris Shcherbina – official

Intersections with the events of the series

As soon as it became known about the accident in Chernobyl, Boris Shcherbina was appointed chairman of the Government Commission of the USSR Council of Ministers to investigate the causes and liquidation of consequences. When he arrived in the city, he realized that the consequences were much worse than they had been imagined in Moscow. The commission was divided into operational groups that worked in individual areas. At the meeting of members of the Government Commission, Shcherbina decided that the removal of people from the danger zone would begin at 14:00. He recommended preparing a message on the radio and in calm tones to talk about the temporary departure of residents from the city. Citizens are used to trusting the government, so the evacuation of the population was prompt and organized.

The commission under his leadership also solved other tasks – extinguishing fires at the station, constructing a shelter over the fourth power unit of the nuclear power plant, decontaminating the territories and restoring the work of the surviving power units.

What ended

In 1988, Boris Shcherbina headed the commission on the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia. Thanks to him , international rescuers from Czechoslovakia and Austria were attracted , who had thermal imagers at their disposal to search for living people and specially trained dogs. Everyone who was with him at that moment noticed that because of the radiation, “which he had consumed in Chernobyl, he had no immunity at all.” Boris Shcherbina died in August 1990.

Vasily and Lyudmila Ignatenko – a firefighter and his wife

Wedding Photography Vasily and Lyudmila Ignatenko Photos

Intersections with the events of the series

Most of the plot of “Chernobyl” is devoted to the tragic history of the spouses Ignatenko. On April 27, firefighter Vasily Ignatenko and his wife Lyudmila were supposed to go to Minsk, but the Chernobyl disaster was involved in the plans. On April 26, at 01:30, Vasily Ignatenko was summoned to put out a fire. He, along with six firefighters, was one of the first to come to extinguish a radioactive flame. As a result, Vasily received a strong radiation poisoning and was taken to hospital. Lyudmila found her husband in the ward a few hours later: he was all swollen and red-eyed, he constantly vomited. She was ordered not to touch her husband: “Do not hug or kiss. Don’t even get close to him. You have half an hour. ” The injured firefighters were sent by special flight to Moscow to Radiological Hospital No. 6. Lyudmila went to get her husband.

An excerpt from the TV series “Chernobyl”, where you can even see how Lyudmila Ignatenko is holding the shoes of her late spouse

What ended

Two weeks later, Vasily Ignatenko died of radiation sickness. He was buried in a zinc coffin under cement in a Moscow cemetery. In the hands of Lyudmila Ignatenko held six red carnations and her husband’s shoes, which did not fit on the swollen legs.

At the time of the disaster, Lyudmila was pregnant. She did not realize the threat her husband poses to the child. Her daughter Natasha lived only five days: she was born with a heart defect and cirrhosis of the liver. Lyudmila Ignatenko received a two-room apartment in one of the 20 “Chernobyl” houses in Troyeschina. She studied at the food industry technologist and worked as a pastry chef.

A few years later, Lyudmila gave birth to a son, Tolya. The Facts and Comments newspaper of September 2000 states that “Lyudmila lives very modestly, she does not receive a pension for the loss of the breadwinner, she does not go to government offices, but does everything to make her son’s life happy”. After the death of her son, she experienced a microstroke and several operations. According to the publication from 2016, Lyudmila lives in her homeland in Kiev.

Anatoly Dyatlov – Deputy Chief Engineer

Defendants in the accident case (from left to right): Director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Viktor Bryukhanov, Deputy Chief Engineer Anatoly Dyatlov, Chief Engineer Nikolai Fomin  Photo RIA Novosti

Intersections with the events of the series

Anatoly Dyatlov – Deputy Chief Engineer for the operation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which according to the official version is considered one of the perpetrators. Despite being exposed to a fairly serious 390 rem, he was sentenced to ten years in a general regime colony. Four years later, after letters in his defense and a request for release, including from Academician Andrei Sakharov, Dyatlov was released early due to illness.

Dyatlov never admitted his guilt. In the book “ Chernobyl. As it was , he wrote that the accident happened “because of the physical characteristics of the reactor, the design features of the regulatory bodies and the output of the reactor in an unregulated state.”

What ended

Shortly before the 30th anniversary of the disaster on YouTube, they published avideo shot by an unknown cameraman at Dyatlov at home. In it, the deputy chief engineer tells his version of the accident events and again indicates that he is not guilty of anything. Woodpeckers died of a heart attack in 1995, he was 65 years old.

Viktor Bryukhanov – Director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Viktor Bryukhanov in the Pripyat secondary school

Intersections with the events of the series

Viktor Bryukhanov, the former director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to the official version is also considered one of the perpetrators of the tragedy. From July 1986 to July 1987 he was appointed deputy head of the production and technical department of ChNPP. Later, for “major mistakes and shortcomings in work that led to an accident with serious consequences,” he was expelled from the ranks of the CPSU and sentenced to ten years in prison with a sentence being served in a general correctional labor institution.

In prison, Viktor Bryukhanov was hard. The notoriety of the former director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant reached the transfer points much earlier than Bryukhanov himself turned out to be there. At the main culprit of the disaster came to see the entire zone. At the zone, Viktor Bryukhanov began to learn English and read classics of Russian literature. He was released early due to health problems.

What ended

After his release in 1991, Bryukhanov immediately went to Chernobyl, where he was “very warmly welcomed” and offered a place by the head of the technical department. In 1995, Alexey Makushin, the Minister of Energy of Ukraine, invited him to the position of Deputy Head of Interenergo. Bryukhanov was engaged in contracts for the supply of electricity abroad, went on business trips to Hungary, Japan and Germany. He retired only at 72 due to deteriorating vision. He died in 2018 at the age of 83 in Kiev.

Nikolay Fomin – Chief Engineer

Accused in the case of the accident (from left to right): Deputy Chief of the Chief Engineer of the station for operation Anatoly Dyatlov and Chief Engineer Nikolai Fomin hear the verdict Photo by RIA Novosti

Intersections with the events of the series

The chief engineer of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Nikolai Fomin, according to the official version, was also recognized as the cause of the accident. He was actively involved in the aftermath of the aftermath, but was arrested simultaneously with the station director, Viktor Bryukhanov. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. During the investigation, the engineer went crazy – he broke his glasses and tried to open his veins with glasses.

Nikolay Fomin in 1988, after two years of detention, developed reactive psychosis (a pathological and temporary change in the perception of reality and ways of interacting with the environment) . He was sent to the Rybinsk mental hospital for prisoners. At the insistence of his relatives, he was transferred from the prison hospital to a civilian psychiatric clinic in the Tver region. At one time he worked at the Kalinin NPP.

What ended

The former Chernobyl nuclear power plant engineer lives with his wife, children and grandchildren in the town of Udomlya (Tver region). On the events of 1986, he tries not to talk. But one of his statements was widely distributed in the media: “I’m largely accused. I consider not everything that was addressed to me to be fair. But I blame myself for one thing: I have always believed that the main thing in the work of an enterprise is technology, but it turned out that the main thing is people. I underestimated their significance. ”

Alexander Akimov – the head of the night shift

Employees of the Chernobyl power plant are taking over the new shift. 
Alexander Akimov – far leftPhoto RIA “News”

Intersections with the events of the series

Alexander Akimov – the head of the night shift of the fourth power unit. In the tragic night, he stood at the console and watched the tests – testing the emergency situation on the fourth unit. After the observers realized that something was wrong, they immediately turned off the main cooling pump. The uranium rods began to heat up. The chain reaction is activated. Immediately, several rods unexpectedly descended into the active part of the reactor, but the reactor power did not decrease. Only after the reactor capacity was increased hundreds of times did Akimov press the emergency stop button.

After the explosion on the fourth power unit, Alexander Akimov, together with dozens of NPP workers, restored the water supply to the third unit and the operation of its pumps. They removed all people from the danger zone, removed the hydrogen from the generators and replaced it with safe nitrogen, pumped out tons of oil to prevent its ignition. These people did not let the accident grow to the scale of a universal catastrophe. The third unit was kept in a stable condition.

What ended

All of them received the strongest doses of radiation and were sent to a local hospital after the firemen, the first ones to extinguish the fire at the reactor. Two weeks later, Alexander Akimov died of radiation sickness in a hospital in Moscow.

Other heroes – liquidators, workers and firefighters

Chernobyl also shows the work of those who came to extinguish the fire in the first seconds and rescue their colleagues by sacrificing their own lives – the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, firefighters, security guards and many others. Detailed information about each of the liquidators and other victims of the man-made disaster was told in the “ Book of Memory of the Chernobyl NPP ”.

A group of specialists is sent to the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to eliminate the consequences of the accident Photo by RIA Novosti

  • Leonid Toptunov – Senior Engineer of the Chernobyl NPP reactor shop. He was responsible for managing the power of the reactor and first noticed that acceleration could make the reactor poorly controlled. After that, he suggested shutting down the reactor and stopping the experiment. But Anatoly Dyatlov did not listen to him, demanded to continue the acceleration of the reactor, which, according to the official version, led to the catastrophe. He died two weeks later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Vyacheslav Brazhnik – a steam turbine driver in a turbine shop. At the accident, he put out fires in mashrooms, where pieces of nuclear fuel and graphite were burning, and did not allow the fire to spread to other units. He died two weeks later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Vladimir Pikalov – Colonel-General, who from March 1968 to December 1988 served as Chief of the USSR Chemical Forces. He took part in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident and personally supervised all activities. Vladimir Pikalov was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union with the award of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal for his great personal contribution to the work to eliminate the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and eliminate its consequences. He died in 2003 in Moscow.
  • Victor Degtyarenko – operator of the reactor department of the fourth power unit. Under conditions of high radiation, he rescued his colleagues from under the rubble, neglecting the mortal danger, and extinguished fires. He died two weeks later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Viktor Kibenok – head of the guard of the city of Pripyat. One of the first to sacrifice himself on the night of April 26, rushing to extinguish fires at a destroyed reactor. He died two weeks later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Valery Perevozchenko – shift manager of the reactor department of the fourth power unit. Together with Victor Degtyarenko rescued his colleagues from the rubble. In the first minutes after the explosion, he rushed to search for his friends, the connection with whom was lost. He died two months later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Vladimir Pravik – chief of the guard of the militarized fire department of the protection of the Chernobyl NPP. In the first seconds of the explosion, he raised the duty unit in alarm and gave the first order to start a fight with fire. He died two months later from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.
  • Alexey Ananenko, Valery Bespalov and Boris Baranov are divers who dived into radioactive water to open the valves of the water tank. Thanks to this, it was possible to prevent a new explosion at the station. Ananenko and Bespalov are alive and continue to work, Baranov died in 2005 from a heart attack. In 2018, the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, awarded Ananenko and Bespalov with the Order For Courage of the third degree. The award for Valery Baranov received his grandson.
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