The goal of the “Chernobyl” series is to discredit the Belarusian power plant, Soviet legacy, and Belarus-Russia relations

Summary

The true intention of the Chernobyl series is to put the issue of a nuclear power plant back on the agenda of Belarusian society. It aims to present Astravets NPP as a symbol of the insolvency of the Belarusian Government, just as the Chernobyl catastrophe became a symbol of the USSR’s imminent collapse.

Before the Chernobyl series was released, the arguments against the Astravets NPP included a threat to salmon spawning, unwanted cooperation with Russia for its construction, and harm to Belarusian-Lithuanian relations.

The second goal behind the Chernobyl series is to promote negative sentiments towards the USSR and relations among post-Soviet countries, especially Belarus-Russia relations. It aims to show that no good can come out of Belarusian-Russian cooperation.

Disproof

This is conspiracy consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the West’s anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian activities, and its attempts to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations.

Chernobyl is a historical drama television series depicting the nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the unprecedented clean-up efforts that followed. The series premiered in the US and UK in early May 2019 and was acclaimed by critics. It is based  in large part on the recollections of Pripyat locals, as relayed by Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich in her book, Voices from Chernobyl. There is no proof of a hidden propagandistic agenda behind the series as alleged by this article.

A negative impact on wildlife and strained Belarusian-Lithuanian relations are among a number of other, often more serious arguments against the NPP construction, including the station's potential technological vulnerabilities. These arguments were provided by environmentalists years ago (see 2010 assessment) and many continue to be voiced at present (see April 2019 publication).

The February 2019 draft decision of the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention acknowledged that Belarus had failed to comply with some Convention provisions and encouraged Belarus and Lithuania to continue bilateral expert consultations. It also expressed regret that Belarus failed to provide the Committee with the information regarding the justification of the selection of the Astravets site over the alternatives.

Read more about pro-Kremlin disinformation based on the Chernobyl series here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 154
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: Belarus
  • Country: USSR, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Chernobyl, Nuclear issues, Russophobia, Conspiracy
  • Outlet: Teleskop
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It is false to state that Crimea was annexed. It was a democratic and geopolitical reaction by the autonomous Crimean administration to the coup d’état in Kyiv, which forced Ukraine’s Russian population to respond to the anti-Russian security threat.

Disproof

No evidence given.

It was Russia that banned the import of most of the food products from the EU, US, and other countries after Western countries introduced sanctions in response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and its deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine. Farmers in Finland are indeed facing economic problems, but the food import ban by Russia is only one of the reasons. The producer price for milk has decreased at the same time as energy and fertiliser prices have gone up.

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Disproof

This message presents a classical conspiracy theory that the “deep state” and “shadow government” control the work of democratic institutions in the United States. Here are some other examples of this narrative: “Deep state” fighting with Trump (here and here); “Deep state” shaping the US foreign policy (here).

No reputable political scientists and researchers confirm the existence of a “deep state” in the United States.

The Ukrainian authorities would burn Donbas residents at the stake if it were acceptable

The Ukrainian army and authorities purposefully make the lives of Donbas residents unbearable. For instance, the army destroys water towers and power-relay stations.

Kyiv hates that Moscow has offered Russian citizenship to residents of the unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The Ukrainian authorities want the residents of these territories to suffer and their children to hide underground. Kyiv created the conditions for Donbas residents to die in torment from shelling, hunger, cold, and infections. However, they were saved by Russian humanitarian assistance.

In reality, Ukrainian authorities are only interested in the residents of Donbas as subjects of repression and judicial processes with charges of treason. If it were acceptable to burn them at the stake, the Ukrainian authorities would do it.

 

Disproof

This case is an extreme variation of typical pro-Kremlin disinformation messages about Ukraine's alleged aggression and intimidation, particularly against Russian speakers living within its borders. It presents completely speculative and unfounded claims about Kyiv's policies concerning the Donetsk and Luhansk territories in order to discredit the Ukrainian authorities and army. There is no evidence that Kyiv is pursuing the harmful and violent policies against civilians described in the article.

The article turns the history of the Donbas conflict upside down, claiming that Russia is providing humanitarian assistance, when in fact Russia is responsible for the military conflict in the first place. Ukraine has repeatedly provided evidence of Russia's role in the war in the east of the country. In January 2017, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Kyiv filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice of the United Nations with the aim of bringing Russia to account for committing acts of terrorism and discrimination, which are the result of its illegal aggression against Ukraine. The lawsuit contains all the facts of Russian aggression against Ukraine, evidence of the illegal annexation of the Crimea, and the occupation of Donbas.