If you haven’t seen HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series yet, you really should. It tells a compelling story not just about a nuclear accident but about a Soviet system that struggled to align itself to the truth even as an exposed nuclear core was irradiating everyone who got close. The show is apparently well regarded by many Russians who have seen it. The Hollywood Reporter notes that on the Russian equivalent of IMDB, the show has a 9.1 (out of 10) rating. However, an opinion piece in the Moscow Times suggests pro-Kremlin media have been less pleased with it. In fact, one network is already producing an alternative version of the story which features the hunt for American saboteurs:
Russia’s NTV channel has already announced that it is shooting its own “Chernobyl” series based on the premise that the CIA sent an agent to the Chernobyl zone to carry out acts of sabotage.
As justification for the story, the film’s director, Alexei Muradov, cited fringe conspiracy theorists: “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.”
In place of a moving tribute to the heroic men and women who sacrificed everything to overcome the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, Moscow gives us a thrilling detective film based on a conspiracy theory in which a KGB officer struggles to thwart American spies — the new villains in this national tragedy.
The exact plot of the show hasn’t been revealed but the actor who plays a CIA agent in the show spoke to a Russian paper and said this (via Google translate):
“I play American spy Albert ,” explains actor Dmitry . – He is a rival and antagonist of the hero Igor (the actor got the image of the officer of the Soviet counterintelligence Andrei . – Ed.). – Lenz – a , was sent to the Chernobyl zone to conduct sabotage work. But when he arrived at the NPP site, he saw something that completely changes his world view. This is a strong emotional shock, as a result of which views on life change dramatically.
Principal photography on the show has already been completed. THR reports some of the funding for it came from Russia’s Ministry of Culture:
The series was commissioned by NTV, a top free-to-air network, owned by Gazprom Media, the media arm of the natural gas giant Gazprom. It was partially financed by the culture ministry, which provided 30 million rubles ($460,000). The total budget has not been made public.
Did I already mention that a major theme of the Chernobyl mini-series was that the Soviets couldn’t accept the truth of the disaster? So I guess not that much has changed for those friendly with the Kremlin in 2019. They’d still rather hint that maybe American spies were to blame than admit this was a homegrown disaster.