Russian Government Backs New Version of Chernobyl

Remake of HBO hit includes a CIA agent at the nuclear plant
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2019 2:52 PM CDT
Russian Series to Counter HBO's Hit, Chernobyl
Widows in Kiev hold portraits of their husbands, who died following the cleanup operations for the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

In a bit of delayed counterprogramming, a Russian TV network will tell the story of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster from a different perspective: that of KGB agents trying to unmask a CIA agent doing bad things at the plant. The news comes as the first season's finale of HBO's Chernobyl aired this week. The show ran in Russia, too, and received high scores from viewers, per the Hollywood Reporter, though some cited inaccuracies and said the series didn't capture the spirit of the Soviet twilight. The IMDB rating for the HBO series is 9.7; on a comparable site, Russians gave it a 9.1. It appears to have been less popular in the Kremlin. NTV will air the Russian series, which is in postproduction and was partly financed by the culture ministry.

HBO’s miniseries started a global conversation about the reactor explosion in what is now part of Ukraine, the Washington Post reports. More than 30 people were killed at the time, and the UN recently traced more than 300,000 cases of thyroid cancer among people under 18 to Chernobyl contamination. Hundreds of thousands of people left or were moved, and Russia quarantined a large area around the plant. Since the HBO series began, pro-government media figures in Russia have criticized it. US media, too, have pointed out problems, including the puzzling fact, per the New York Times, that radiation victims are often shown covered in blood. But Moscow Times columnist Ilya Shepelin writes, "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." (More Chernobyl stories.)

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