Pubblichiamo parte della relazione sul disastro di Chernobyl tenuta a Kyiv, in Ucraina, dal capo dell’Istituto nazionale ucraino della memoria. Un disastro di simile portata avrebbe potuto avvenire soltanto all’interno di una società chiusa come quella sovietica, cementata da una mentalità mafiosa, in cui la lealtà ai capi e il paternalismo funzionavano da copertura per tutti i coinvolti e i responsabili dei controlli.
The tragedy was that senior management was not aware of the scale of the disaster, and the above-mentioned paternalism and loyalty prevented from saying it directly. The first report at night on April 26 looked like a normal message about an accident at industrial sites, where among other things they indicated that the level of radiation “at the station territory was 20-25 micro-roentgen per second, in Pripyat 4-14 micro-roentgen per second.” The report at 3pm on April 26 tells about the level of radiation of gamma particles close to the fire up to 1,000 micro-roentgen per second, within the NPP – up to 100, in parts of Pripyat – 2-4 micro-roentgen per second” and from April 28 – 1,000-2,600 micro-roentgen per second on the third and fourth reactors and 30-160 in the city.” As it turned out, nobody could understand the real significance of these figures. “Volodymyr Shcherbytskyi left a single resolution on the document with information on the city radiation on the third day after the accident:” What does all this mean?” said Mr. Viatrovych. As a result, at the beginning, instead of evacuating the population, a special commission was trying to avoid “spreading false rumors and panic.” The first report in the media was only at 9 pm on April 28, but it did not have any information about danger. On May 1 morning, when the background radiation in Kyiv reached its peak, no one knew about it. Intelligence agencies reported the leadership that “preparations for the celebration of May 1 are underway in extremely healthy political environment.” Evacuation of residents started only 36 hours later. Evacuation from the 10 km zone finished only on May 3, evacuation from the 30-kilometer zone was planned only for May 4-5. On May 20 the authorities had not even considered “the possibility of returning people to their former places of residence in a number of settlements in the 30km zone.”
The truth about the accident had been concealed for the whole year. “Security label was attached to the data on the true causes of the accident, the extent of damage and radiation situation in the 30 km zone, the measurements of radiation in the area and Ukraine as a whole, the decontamination and disposal of radioactive elements, general information on radiation sickness. The list of inaccessible information totaled to 28 positions,” said Mr. Viatrovych. “KGB information often contains reports on “conducting preventive-explanatory conversations with people who spread false rumors.” 381 preventive conversation of this kind were conducted over a few months in 1986.”
Information blockade was also kept internationally. Alarm began on April 28, but the Soviet authorities resorted to direct disinformation of the international community and foreign journalists who came to the USSR. Interests of large Western businesses owners, beware of mass movement against the construction of new nuclear power plants, also contributed to concealing the truth. “The film crew is interested in covering the liquidation of the accident in a favorable light according to the desire of the owners of Western nuclear power plants to prove the safety of their further use,” said the KGB report about a group of journalists of American broadcasting company “CBS” who were in the 30 in km area at the time of the accident. European communist newspapers were also used to conceal the truth.
However, society could not fail to see the real scale of the accident. Blatant lies on the part of authorities led to strengthening of protest movement. On the first anniversary of the accident in 1987 KGB reported on their active efforts to stop the demonstrations, but in 1988 special measures could not help.
According to Mr. Viatrovych, it was the Chernobyl disaster that marked the beginning of the end of communism, because it ruined its basic principle “loyalty – guarantee of security.” Enormous discrediting role was played by the fact that the country which declared willingness to nuclear confrontation, failed to respond to an accident in peacetime. “Incompetence in eliminating the accident, evacuating people, providing help began to destroy the habitual for Soviet people paternalism – hope for the state collapsed, only those who took their destiny in their own hands were able to rescue. Anti-Soviet movement that had been elite and even marginal by that time gradually became widespread, gaining support of inert majority that had lost faith in the government strength and help,” concluded Mr. Viatrovych.
They also concealed the truth from the military that had been sent to the zone. “The KGB documents contain interesting facts: during the mobilization some workers of military registration and enlistment offices, including Latvian, Lithuanian SSR, and Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions resorted to outright deception of designated personnel who were informed of being sent not to Chernobyl but to virgin lands, promised to pay five times as much, to give help in getting free treatment upon return, to provide other benefits to families,” said Volodymyr Viatrovych.