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


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.


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.


  • Reported in: Issue 154
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: USSR, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Chernobyl, Nuclear issues, Russophobia, Conspiracy theory


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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