While I may be experiencing some quick meltdowns as graduation rapidly approaches….that’s not the meltdown I’m talking about today. I suppose it wasn’t quick either. The meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986 is still affecting life in Russia today.
A surge of power caused the number 4 reactor at the nuclear facility to explode and remains the worst nuclear accident in world history (Siegelbaum). As many as 100,000 citizens may have died or suffered severely due to the effects of radiation (Siegelbaum). A political commenter, for the Russian newspaper Izvestia, wrote in 1986,
“On our television screens, we have seen only a small part of the pictures that they will keep in their memories for the rest of their lives. Shots taken from a helicopter — the deserted settlement near the atomic power station, the bright new homes, the straight streets, the absence of people” (Kondrashov).
This quote made me think of 9/11 and other disasters the US has faced, as a nation we watched through television screens and felt the pain as one. The meltdown at Chernobyl was an ache in the heart of Russia. Not only was Chernobyl an emotional wound for Russia though, it would have its impact in economics and politics.
These deaths were not only impactful to the family members of the lost, but also to Russia at large. Cleaning up the mess cost Russia billions of rubles….which was not great for the faltering Soviet economy (Siegelbaum). Another large impact was the distrust that it created in the Russian public towards the Kremlin and the government. After the disaster it was nearly impossible to find out what was going on, Gorbachev did not address the situation until 3 weeks after the disaster (Siegelbaum).
Imagine if our country had not been given information on 9/11 or a similar disaster…imagine the rumors…the chaos…the call for new politicians. Five years later the Soviet Union would collapse and the financial, political and social implications of the Chernobyl disaster certainly played their part in the fall.
Kondrashov, Stanislav. (1986). “Thinking About Chernobyl”. Izvestia. https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/19991354 Accessed April 29, 2018
Photo: Unknown Artist. (1986) “Chernobyl Blast Zone”. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1985-2/meltdown-in-chernobyl/meltdown-in-chernobyl-images/#bwg206/1016 Accessed April 29, 2018
Siegelbaum, Lewis. “Meltdown in Chernobyl” Soviethistory.MSU.edu http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1985-2/meltdown-in-chernobyl/ Accessed April 29, 2018