The Chornobyl nuclear power plant five years ago and immediately after the tragedy. Photo: Photo: Amos Chapple.
04/27/2021 – 10:06 pm •
Article by: Olena Makarenko
Edited by: Alya Shandra
After the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine embarked on a long-awaited journey to open its KGB archives, finally shedding light on its Soviet totalitarian past. Some of the most resonant documents to emerge from those archives are classified KGB reports documenting how the Communist leadership of the USSR attempted to wipe out the largest nuclear catastrophe in human history, as well as its red flag precursors, under the carpet. A motion designer has now converted this hard-to-digest data goldmine into a format suitable for millennials. His videos have already reached millions of viewers.
Andriy Pryimachenko is a Ukrainian motion designer who created simple videos based on declassified KGB documents about the explosion of the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. He heard the stories of the catastrophe in his childhood: part of his family was from that region and his grandfather worked as a liquidator to clarify the consequences of the Chornobyl explosion.
Andriy believes that the fact that the materials of the secret services of the USSR and other countries have been opened is “phenomenal”. Yet few people took advantage of this goldmine of information, and old myths about the catastrophe persisted, such as the fact that the engineers were guilty of the explosion or that the Soviet Union did everything right when evacuating residents around. Chornobyl. Thus was born the idea of popularizing the declassified archives.
Andriy Pryimachenko, motion designer. Courtesy photo
“The events I speak of have occurred recently. They took place without war, without special needs, simply because this was the system. Human life was useless [in the USSR]. And the story of Chornobyl, the story of the evacuation from Pripyat [the town near the plant], the history of the accident and the history of the elimination of its consequences directly show that human life was useless in the Soviet Union “, said the designer at the Ukrainian service of RFE / RL.
Chornobyl 1986: the first satellite image of the disaster
Pryimachenko’s short views show the latest messages from the information system of the fourth block of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant before the explosion.
The video contains voiceovers of archival documents, images from NASA’s satellite archive, and documents from Ukrainian and international archives.
The scariest telephone conversation of the 20th century
All the materials he uses are taken from open sources. Many Ukrainian archives work on publishing and opening access to Soviet messages and other special services. Some US archives are also working on this. In addition, there are many Central Intelligence Agency documents that investigated the Chornobyl events independently – since they did not have reliable information from the Soviet Union, they had to deal with it themselves.
Chornobyl 1986: KGB order to classify incident information
However, Priymachenko admits that, despite public access, not many people use this information. In addition, he analyzed the comments people leave for his videos, it turned out that many still follow Soviet myths.
50,000 people in 4 hours: Pripyat evacuation announced
“Many commentators convey common Soviet myths that” you have to drink a liter of vodka and there will be no radiation “or that the accident happened” because of the engineers “or that it happened because of the way the station was built. . There is also the opinion: “What are you complaining about, everything was done well in the Soviet Union – people were evacuated immediately after the accident.” That’s why I made a video showing that people weren’t evacuated all day after the explosion. They have been under the effect of terrible doses of radiation for more than a day. “
Priymachenko made his videos in a format similar to a computer game. This was intentional: he wanted to attract a large audience.
“I know my audience plays video games, watches horror stories – this is a completely different generation that isn’t interested in a document scanned from the KGB archives with the ‘declassified’ stamp. I figured out how to visualize everything to make it interesting to watch. But my most important principle is that I don’t distort the information I give. “
The Last Signals Signals from Chornobyl’s Fourth Power Unit
Watch all the videos here.
Edited by: Alya Shandra
Tag: Chernobyl / Chernobyl