Russia is making its own version of 'Chernobyl' blaming America for causing the disaster

Russia is making its own version of 'Chernobyl' blaming America for causing the disaster

The five-part HBO miniseries Chernobyl concluded this week, and is the highest rated TV show of all time on IMDb. Yes, that's a dubious honor, since the list is a ranking based on one website's user base. But still, it's impressive a slow-paced historical drama beat pop culture phenomenons like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

Masterminded by Craig Mazin, the miniseries tells the story of the worst man-made disaster in history.  On April 26, 1986, the Soviet nuclear station in Pripyat exploded after a botched safety test. The ensuing fire launched lethal amounts of radiation into the air, rendering a 19-mile zone unfit for human habitation for 20,000 years.

The explosion caused 2 immediate deaths and 31 subsequent deaths from radiation sickness. However, the exact number of people who died from the insidious effects of radiation poisoning is unknown. The estimates range from 4,000 to 93,000.

Watch the Chernobyl trailer here

The miniseries follows Valery Legasov (Jared Harris), Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) and Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) as they struggle to clean up the disaster. A difficult mission, since the feckless Soviet government is more concerned with their public image than the safety of their citizens. When the trio discovers that Soviet lies caused the disaster, Legasov has a difficult decision to make: Is it worth sacrificing your life to expose the truth?

Mazin exhaustively researched the incident and meticulously recreated the 1980's setting, all way down to the cars, cigarettes and wallpaper. Of course, some parts were dramatized. For example, the actors didn't speak in Russian accents, the plane crash happened at a different time, and Ulana Khomyuk is a composite character representing multiple heroic scientists. But the essential story was accurate.

Watch Chernobyl's Happiness Of All Mankind' scene

However, multiple Kremlin media outlets are very upset about the HBO show, according to The Moscow Times. "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," wrote the Times’ Ilya Shepelin. "And this is the real reason they find fault with HBO’s Chernobyl series."

In fact, Russia is so peeved about they are making their own Chernobyl movie, blaming the US for the disaster. Director Alexei Muradov told the Times it's based on a conspiracy theory that "Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant" and therefore had a hand in the explosion. "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," Muradov said.

Promo image for HBO's Chernobyl. Credit: HBO

So, instead of celebrating the real-life Russian heroes who courageously sacrificed their lives to clean up the catastrophe, the film will focus on a Ducktales conspiracy theory passing the blame? That tracks for a country whose leaders rarely acknowledge Chernobyl survivors, as Shepelin writes:

"Just go to the official Kremlin website to see how often President Vladimir Putin mentions the Chernobyl survivors- many of whom are still alive and suffer from a variety of radiation-induced illnesses, Putin’s sole references to them occur on the major anniversaries of the Chernobyl accident. He last mentioned them in 2016, on the 30th anniversary of the disaster, and again in 2011, on the 25th anniversary."

Well, at least the Russian version will have accurate accents (if not accurate facts).