Thu Jun 13, 2019, 02:06 AM

Putins Media Struggle to Deal With HBOs Chernobyl

Putin’s Media Struggle to Deal With HBO’s Chernobyl
The fact that an American, not a Russian, TV channel told the story about our own heroes is a source of shame for pro-Kremlin media.

It seems every major Russian media outlet had to chime in about the “Chernobyl” TV series by HBO. Although the foreign program airs only online to paying viewers, the show has become something of a national sensation in Russia where the pro-Kremlin media have launched a mini-crusade against it.

Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP), Russia’s most popular newspaper, raised suspicions that competitors of state-atomic center Rosatom were using the series to tarnish this country’s image as a nuclear power.

Argumenty i Fakty, a newspaper popular among the elderly, dismissed the show as “a caricature and not the truth.”

“The only things missing are the bears and accordions!” quipped Stanislav Natanzon, lead anchor of Rossia 24, one of the country’s main news channels. He pointed to shots showing modern storm windows on a building in Pripyat — that are only visible if you greatly enlarge the image — as evidence of shoddy filmmaking. However, critics of the series found fault with more than just minor details.

"The scientist Valery Legasov not only led the government’s response to the Chernobyl disaster, he was also openly critical of its management of the nuclear industry."

In his show, the Rossia 24 anchor pointed out a major article published by KP, arguing that the HBO series was wrong to suggest that the Soviet authorities were afraid to admit their mistakes and that this reluctance led to terrible consequences.

Legasov’s article in the country’s leading newspaper, the anchor says, proves this was not the case, undermining one of the main theses of the show.

Unfortunately, however, state-controlled media often tries unmask one set of lies with the help of another. It is true that Legasov did write such an article for KP in 1987, but the editors didn’t like it and refused to publish the piece.

Legasov was at wit's end by this time: the Academy of Sciences had rejected his ideas and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had refused to award him the honorary title of Hero of Socialist Labor (although he did bestow it upon others who worked with Legasov in Chernobyl).

Following a meeting at the Academy of Sciences, Legasov hung himself. Two weeks after his death, KP reversed its decision and published Legasov’s article in 1988.


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