01x05 - Vichnaya Pamyat

Episode transcripts for the show, "Chernobyl". Aired: May 2019 to June 2019.
A drama of one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history; the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident and the sacrifices made to save Europe from complete disaster.
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01x05 - Vichnaya Pamyat

Post by bunniefuu »

Congratulations, comrades.
You're the last of , men.


ULANA KHOMYUK: I found this in the state archive.

I need your help.

Can you confirm that the reactor exploded after they attempted to shut it down?

What, you think the right question will get you the truth?

VALERY LEGASOV: They're going to put Dyatlov on trial.

We're going to be asked to give expert testimony.

KHOMYUK: I've analyzed the data.

They shut the reactor down, and then it exploded.

You've seen this before.

I had no idea it could cause an expl*si*n.

- BORIS SHCHERBINA: So, it is their fault?

KHOMYUK: But not only their fault.

SHCHERBINA: We can make a deal with the KGB.

You'll leave this information out in Vienna.

They quietly let us fix the remaining reactors.

KHOMYUK: You have a chance to talk to the world.

Someone has to start telling the truth.



I hear they might promote Bryukhanov.

This little problem we have with the safety test... if it's completed successfully, yes, I think promotion's very likely.

Who knows, maybe Moscow.

Naturally, they'll put me in charge once he's gone, and then I'll need someone to take my old job.

I could pick Sitnikov.

I would like to be considered.

I'll keep that in mind.

Viktor Petrovich, preparations for the test have gone smoothly.

Comrade Dyatlov's been working per my instructions, and Reactor output's been reduced to megawatts.

With your approval, we're ready to continue lowering power to...

We have to wait.

Is, uh...?

Are you going to ask me if there's a problem, Nikolai?

You can't read a f*cking face?

Three years, I've tried to finish this test.

Three years.

I've just had a call from the grid controller in Kiev.

He says we can't lower power any further,

not for another ten hours.

The grid controller? Where does he get off...

It's not the grid controller's decision, Dyatlov.

It's the end of the month.

All the productivity quotas.

Everyone's working overtime, the factories need power.

Someone's pushing down from above.

Although, we'll never know who.

So, do we have to scrap it or what?

No, I don't think so.

If we need to wait ten hours,

- we wait
- Running at half power, we're not going to have s*ab issues?

- No, I-I should think...
- I'm not asking you.

DYATLOV: It's safe.

We'll maintain at .

I'll go home, get some sleep, come back tonight.

We'll proceed then.

I'll personally supervise the test.

And it will be completed.

Well, I'm not waiting around then.

Call me when it's done.




How do you feel?

You went to the doctor yesterday.

How is your health?

You don't know?

From Vienna.

Do you read German?

It says, "At last a Soviet scientist who tells the truth."

Obviously, I resent the insinuation, but I think it's fair to say, you made an excellent impression at the conference.

Turns out, you're quite good at this.

At what? Lying?

Statecraft, Legasov. Statecraft.

The West is now satisfied that Chernobyl was solely the result of operator error, which it essentially was.

We have you to thank for that, and we intend to.

"Hero of the Soviet Union."

Our highest honor.

They haven't even given it to me.

"Promotion to Director of the Kurchatov Institute."

I'm humbled.

I don't think there's anything humble about you, Valery Alexeyevich.

These rewards are not yours yet.

First, your testimony at the trial.

Comrade Charkov, I understand my duty to the State.

But you gave us assurances.

The reactors would be made safe.

It's been months, no changes have been made.

- No changes even discussed.
- First, the trial.

Once it's over, we will have our villains, we will have our hero, we will have our truth.

After that, we can deal with the reactors.




Did you take a train?

Yes, I took a train.

Now let's talk about Vienna.

I'm not here to scold you.

I know how the world works despite what Shcherbina says.

So... why are you here?

Because I'm brutally stubborn.

Which you were hoping for.

Charkov is saying they're going to fix the reactors after the trial.

Do you believe him?


The State will never willingly fix the reactors, because acknowledging the problem means admitting that they lied.

They will have to be forced.

At the trial, you're going to tell the truth.

You're going to convince the jury.

(SCOFFING): It's a show trial.

The jury's already been handed their verdict.

I'm not talking about them.

The Central Committee have invited members of the scientific community to observe the trial.

Our colleagues, from Kurchatov, from Sredmash, from Minenergo, they will be sitting in the crowd listening to every word you say.

A jury that only we know is there.

And when your testimony arrives at the moment of the expl*si*n?

That is when our jury will finally hear the truth.

- And do what with it?
- Insist on reform.


Not just to the RBMK, but the entire industry.

No, no, no, no, no.

- They can't function without us.
- No, no, no.

Do you know what happened to Volkov

the man whose report you found?

They just removed him from his position at the Institute.

Sacked for the crime of knowing.

And you think that these scientists, handpicked to witness a show trial, will somehow be stirred into action by me?

Because of some heroic stance I take in defiance of the State?

- Yes.
- Why?

Because you're Valery Legasov, and you mean something.


I'd like to think that if I spoke out, it would be enough.

But I know how the world works.

They will sh**t me, Khomyuk.

You told me to find out what happened.

I spoke to dozens of people.

Every word they said, I wrote down.

All in these books.

These are the ones who are still alive.

These are the ones who are d*ad.

They died rescuing each other.

Putting out fires, tending to the wounded.

They didn't hesitate, they didn't waiver.

They simply did what had to be done.

So have I.

So have I.

I went willingly to an open reactor.

So I've already given my life.

Isn't that enough?

No, I'm sorry, but it is not.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. has determined that justice be carried out on behalf of the People in accordance with the general goal of our Party as determined by its th, st, and nd Congresses, which is a Leninist goal.

It was, is, and will be the only immutable goal in the Soviet state.

The path of Leninist principles shall be consistently and undeviatingly followed as it expresses the vital interests of the Soviet People, its hopes and aspirations as we guide the life of the Party and the State.

This session of court is now open, Comrade Judge Milan Kadnikov presiding.

Indictments: Viktor Bryukhanov, Anatoly Dyatlov, Nikolai Fomin... are accused of violating Article Section of the Criminal Code of the Soviet Union, resulting in a nuclear disaster on April , .

The State calls witnesses Comrade Khomyuk of the Byelorussian Nuclear Institute,

Comrade Legasov of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy, and Comrade Boris Evdokimovich Shcherbina, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and head of the Bureau for Fuel and Energy.

It began with, of all things, a safety test.

Why was there need for a safety test at all?

Reactor Number was not new when the accident occurred.

In fact, it went into operation on December th, .

Eleven days later, on the last day of the year, Plant Director Viktor Bryukhanov signed this document... certifying the completion of the construction of the reactor.

As a result of finishing the work before the end of the year, Comrade Bryukhanov was awarded Hero of Socialist Labor.

Comrade Fomin was awarded for Valorous Labor.

Comrade Dyatlov was given an Order of the Red Banner.

But their work was not finished.

And this document was a lie.

In order to sign this certificate, all safety tests had to have been successfully completed, and yet, one remained.

A nuclear reactor generates heat in the core here.

A series of pumps, here and here, send a constant flow of cooling water through the core.

The core's heat turns the water to steam, and the steam spins the turbine here, and the result is electricity.

But what if a power plant has no power?

What if the power feeding the plant itself is disrupted?

A blackout, equipment failure, or an att*ck by a foreign enemy?

If there's no power, the pumps cannot move water through the core.

And without water, the core overheats, the fuel melts down.

In short, a nuclear disaster.

The solution?

Three diesel fuel backup generators here.

So, problem solved?


Bryukhanov knew that the problem was not solved at all.

The backup generators took approximately one minute to reach the speed required to power the pumps and prevent a meltdown, and by that time, it would be too late.

So we arrive at the safety test.

The theory was this: If the facility lost power, the turbine, which had been spinning, would take some time to slow down and stop.

What if you could take the electricity it was still generating and transfer it to the pumps?

What if the dying turbine could keep the pumps working long enough to bridge the -second gap until the generators came on?


Any questions?

KADNIKOV: No. Continue, please.

To test this theory, the reactor is placed in a reduced power mode... megawatts... to simulate a blackout condition.

Then the turbines are turned off, and as they slowly spin down, their electrical output is measured to see if it's enough to power the pumps.

The science is strong, but a test is only as good as the men carrying it out.

Now, the first time they tried, they failed.

The second time they tried, they failed.

The third time they tried, they failed.

The fourth time they tried was April th, .

STEPASHIN: Comrade Khomyuk.


To understand what happened that night, we have to go back ten hours earlier...

April th, the day the test was meant to take place.

By two in the afternoon, the reactor has been lowered by half from its normal output level of megawatts to megawatts and is s*ab and ready to be reduced to its final output level for the test: megawatts.

But before they can proceed, there is a phone call.

Power grid officials in Kiev say that they cannot afford a further reduction in the electricity until after midnight.

They are asking for a ten-hour delay.

This is the first critical moment, the first link in the chain of disaster.

Competent management would have insisted on canceling the test.

These three men allowed it to proceed.

Why was this delay so dangerous?

It created two problems:

One of them is scientific in nature... and the other is very human.

This is the one we will consider first.

At midnight, there is a shift change.

- Hey.

- Khodemchuk...
- Forget it. Find another fool.

Toptunov, want to buy a motorcycle?

BRAZHNIK: Toptunov? He's just a little boy.

He's got more hair on his face than on his balls.

Hair? Is that what's on his lip?


Leonid Fedorovych.

Akimov says to come to the control room as soon as you can.

- Is he already here?
- He came in early.

Something about a test.

- You see? Desperate.


Ah. You know the test they were supposed to run?

The turbine rundown, they tried it last year.

They couldn't do it on the day shift, so they've given it to us.

To us?

- We don't know what...
- AKIMOV: Shh.

- (WHISPERING): We don't know what it is.
- It's fine.

We take it down to , hold it there, the rest is Stolyarchuk and Kirschenbaum, but...

Dyatlov is gonna be supervising.

I have to do something I've never done before with Dyatlov looking over my shoulder?

Yeah, well, don't worry, we'll do it together.

I'm looking at the instructions now.

Are we supposed to do those or not?

Yes, this is Akimov in .

I have the manual for the rundown test.

You did it last year.

Yes, in the program there's instructions of what to do, and then, well, there's a lot of things crossed out.

What should I...?

Well, what should I...?

Are you sure?

Right. Thank you.

He says to follow the crossed-out instructions.

So then why are they crossed out?


We've been cleared to run the test.

. Good.

Now, is it too much to ask that you all know what you're doing?

- Well...
- Yes. Absolutely.

- Stolyarchuk?
- Yes.

- Kirschenbaum?
- Uh, I haven't reviewed.

We only just found out really...

There, review it.

Or you can just do what I tell you.

I think even you, stupid as you are, can manage that.

Well, let's go.

I'm supposed to switch the turbine off while the reactor's still running?

- This is not good...
- Shut the f*ck up and do your job!

Toptunov, reduce power to .

(WHISPERING): I've never done this with the power so low before.

(WHISPERS): It's okay. I'm with you.

Reducing power to .

KHOMYUK: I want you to think of Yuri Gagarin.

I want you to imagine that he has been told nothing of his mission into space until the moment that he is on the launch pad.

I want you to imagine that all he has is a list of instructions that he has never seen before, some of which have been crossed out.

This is exactly what was happening in the control room of Reactor .

The night shift had not been trained to perform the experiment.

They hadn't even been warned it was happening.

Leonid Toptunov, the operator responsible for controlling and s*ab the reactor that night was... all of years old.

And his total experience on the job?

Four months.

This is the human problem created by the delay.

But inside the reactor core, in the space between the atoms themselves, something far more dangerous is forming.

A poison.

The time is past midnight.

Comrade Legasov.



I'm pleased to see some of my colleagues here from the Kurchatov Institute and Minenergo.

But you don't need to be a nuclear scientist to understand what happened at Chernobyl.

You only need to know this: there are essentially two things that happen inside a nuclear reactor.

The reactivity which generates power either goes up, or it goes down.

That's it.

All the operators do is maintain balance.

Uranium fuel.

As uranium atoms split apart and collide, reactivity goes up.

But if you don't balance the reactivity, it never stops rising. So...

Boron control rods.

They reduce reactivity like brakes on a car.

But there's a third factor to consider: water.

Cool water takes heat out of the system.

As it does, it turns to steam, or what we call a "void."

In an RBMK reactor of the type used at Chernobyl, there's something called a "positive void coefficient."

What does that mean?

It means that the more steam present within the system, the higher the reactivity, which means more heat, which means more steam, which means...

It would appear we have a vicious cycle on our hands.

And we would, were it not for this...


And we would, were it not for this: the negative temperature coefficient.

When nuclear fuel gets hotter, it gets less reactive, so...fuel increases reactivity.

Control rods and water reduce it.

Steam increases it, and the rise in temperature reduces it.

This is the invisible dance that powers entire cities without smoke or flame.

And it is beautiful when things are normal.

As uranium splits apart to release energy, it breaks down into a new element, xenon.

Xenon reduces reactivity.

This is the poison Comrade Khomyuk mentioned.

When the core is running at full power, it burns the xenon away before it can cause a problem.

But because of the delay, Chernobyl Reactor has been held at half power for ten hours.

The xenon did not burn away.

It built up, poisoning the core.

We're starting to lose balance.

- At minutes past midnight, the reactor is now primed to slow down.

And yet, in less than an hour, it will explode.

If you can't understand how a stalled nuclear reactor could lead to an expl*si*n, I don't blame you.

After all, you don't work in the control room of a nuclear power plant.

But as it turned out, the men who did didn't understand it either.


Easy now.

Take it down.

Good. Like that.

DYATLOV: You should have finished by now.

We're following protocol for reduction rate.

You're procrastinating.

There are ten other men in this plant who would've done it already.

(WHISPERS): Keep working.
You're doing fine.

Kirschenbaum, come get me when these old women are ready.

Yes, Comrade Dyatlov.

Okay, very slow now.

Let's ease it down to .

- Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow.
- I-I didn't move any rods there.

- What is this?
- I'm not even touching it.

We did everything right. I think that maybe the core is poisoned.

Well, if you thought the core was poisoned, then you didn't do everything right, because you're choking my reactor!

Get it back up!

Uh, I think if we turn off LAC,

it may be possible to get more control.

- Do it. Go.
- Switch off local a*t*matic control.

Go to global. Leonid.

LAC disabled. Global control activated.

What did you do?

- I-I did what you said. I switched...
- DYATLOV: Look at it!

- AKIMOV: I don't understand.
- DYATLOV: f*cking amateurs.

You stalled the reactor.

How the f*ck did you get this job?

Comrade Dyatlov...

You're gonna tell me you did everything right again, you incompetent assh*le?

I apologize for this unsatisfactory result.

- What are you doing?
- We have to shut all the way down.

- No.
- We could be in a xenon pit.

We have to shut down and wait for hours.

No. We're doing the test tonight. Raise power to .

We can't raise the power from here.

- The rules...
- Don't talk to me about rules.

- If we fall from %...
- No, no. We fell from %.

- AKIMOV: Fifty percent is worse!
- The rules don't say !

- There is no rule!
- Comrade Dyatlov,

I apologize, but what you're saying makes no sense.

- Raise the power.
- No.

I won't do it. It isn't safe.

Safety first. Always.

I've been saying that for years.

That's how long I've done this job, years.

Is that longer than you, Akimov?


- Is it much longer?
- Yes.

And you with your mother's tit barely out of your mouth?

So if I say it's safe, it's safe.

And if the two of you disagree, then you don't have to work here and you won't.

But not just here.
You won't work at Kursk or Ignalina or Leningrad or Novo-Voronezh.

You won't work anywhere ever again. I'll see to it.

I think you know I will see to it.

Raise the power.

I would like you to record your command.

Raise the power.


Together, then.

DYATLOV: I wasn't even there.

- LEGASOV: What?

I wasn't in the room when they raised the power.

If you weren't there, then where were you?

Comrade Legasov, you are a witness, not a prosecutor.

I will ask the questions here.

If you weren't in the room, then where were you?

The toilet.


STEPASHIN: The toilet?

Comrade Khomyuk interviewed everyone who was in the control room that night.

They all told the same story.

"I knew what Dyatlov ordered was wrong, but if I didn't do what he said, I would be fired."

Leonid Toptunov.

One day before he died.

No, Comrade Dyatlov, you were in the room.

You ordered them to raise the power.

- This is a fact.


Court is now in recess.

Thirty minutes.


Do you know anything about this town, Chernobyl?

Not really, no.

It was mostly Jews and Poles.

The Jews were k*lled in pogroms, and Stalin forced the Poles out.

And then the n*zi came and k*lled whoever was left.

But after the w*r... people came to live here anyway.

They knew the ground under their feet was soaked in blood, but they didn't care.

d*ad Jews, d*ad Poles.

But not them.

No one ever thinks it's going to happen to them.

And here we are.

How much time?

Maybe a year.

They call it a... (COUGHS)

They call it a "long illness."

It doesn't seem very long to me.

I know you told me, and I believed you.

But time passed, and I thought, it wouldn't happen to me.

I wasted it.

I wasted it all for nothing.

For nothing?

Do you remember that morning when I first called you, how unconcerned I was?

I don't believe much that comes out of the Kremlin, but when they told me they were putting me in charge of the cleanup and they said it wasn't serious, I believed them.

You know why?

Because they put you in charge.


I'm an inconsequential man, Valera.

That's all I've ever been.

I hoped that one day I would matter, but I didn't.

I just stood next to people who did.

There are other scientists like me.

Any one of them could have done what I did.

But you...

Everything we asked for, everything we needed.

Men, material, lunar rovers.

Who else could have done these things?

They heard me, but they listened to you.

Of all the ministers and all the deputies... entire congregation of obedient fools... they mistakenly sent the one good man.

For god's sake, Boris, you were the one who mattered most.

Ah, it's beautiful.



STEPASHIN: Comrade Legasov.

LEGASOV: The time is past midnight.

The reactor is nearly shut down.

The operators of Reactor are locked on a path that leads directly to disaster.

There's no way to turn back.

They do not yet know it, but the die is cast.

At megawatts, xenon is still being created, but none of it is burning away.

The reactor is drowning in poison.

To make matters worse, the reactor isn't hot enough to produce sufficient steam.

The only way to safely raise power from this state is to do it very, very slowly over the course of hours.

But Dyatlov wants it done now.

Akimov and Toptunov have only one course of action.

They begin pulling control rods out.

Dozens at a time.

Halfway out, three-quarters of the way out, still, the power does not budge.

So they begin pulling them all the way out.

There were control rods in Reactor .

Akimov and Toptunov completely withdrew .

Remember... control rods are the brakes on this car.

Of rods, only six now remain in the reactor.

As for the fuel, it's gone cold, so the negative temperature coefficient is no longer weighing down the reactivity.

But even still, the xenon poisoning is so strong, the best they can do is raise the power to megawatts.

The control rods are out.

The emergency system has been disconnected.

The only thing keeping the reactor in check is water and xenon.

It's one in the morning. The test is minutes away.



I'm sorry, this is all we can get.

It's megawatts. We've pulled almost everything out.

If that's all we have, that's all we have.

- But the test requires .
- Stolyarchuk, let's get ready.

- Switch on pump .
- AKIMOV: No, wait a second.

- DYATLOV: Stolyarchuk...
- We have barely enough steam as it is.

The turbine is going too slow for the test to deliver any valid results.

- It's enough.
- And if we add more water,

- there will be even less...
- I said it's enough.

I know what I'm doing. Stolyarchuk.

Main Pump , connected.

We should warn Khodemchuk. The pipes are gonna be...

Never mind him. Kirschenbaum?


The steam in the separator drum is too low... five atmospheres.

All right, let's all help him. Get it up as best you can.


We should stop.

DYATLOV: Turn that f*cking thing off.

- You have minutes.

LEGASOV: Fifteen minutes.

They may as well have had days.

The problem they were facing was not solvable.

The power was too low, the water was too high.

The test was already ruined.

The results would have been useless, but Dyatlov didn't care.

All he wanted to do was report a completed test.

: a.m.

Less than two minutes remain.

Yuvchenko, a mechanical engineer, is in his office.

Perevozchenko, reactor section foreman, is in the refueling hall, high above the , -ton steel reactor cover.

- Degtaryenko and Khodemchuk, circulation operators, are in the pump room.

None of them have been told about the test.

None of them know what is about to happen.

At : and seconds, Toptunov sees a report from the reactor's SKALA computer system.

Based on the absence of sufficient control rods, the computer is recommending that the reactor be shut down.

Well, of course it's saying that.

It doesn't know we're running a test.

All right, comrades.

Another few minutes, it will all be over.

Kirschenbaum, when you're ready.

We did everything right.

KIRSCHENBAUM: Oscillograph on.

Closing Number throttle valve.

STOLYARCHUK: Generator rotor beginning rundown.

LEGASOV: : and four seconds.

With every decision, they have pulled this reactor back like a slingshot, further than anyone has ever pulled, now the test begins.

The pumps are shut down, and they've let go.

The pumps stop moving water through the reactor.

Uranium fuel is now unchecked by fresh coolant, unchecked by control rods.

The balance immediately swings in the opposite direction.

In less than a second, reactivity increases.

Inside the core, the remaining water is quickly converting to steam.

A void is being created.

There is no fresh water to replace it.

Steam increases reactivity, increases heat, increases steam, increases reactivity.

The remaining xenon decays away.

The power is rising.

There's nothing left to stop it.

: and seconds.

We have a power surge! Sasha!

What did you do?!

: and seconds.

In every control room of every nuclear reactor in the world, there is a button with one single purpose... to "scram," or instantly shut down, the reaction.

In Soviet reactors, that button is called AZ- .

You press AZ- , all of the control rods insert at once, and the reaction is stopped d*ad.



What are you waiting for, Legasov? Tell your lies.

KADNIKOV: Comrade Dyatlov, you will not be warned again.

- DYATLOV: Or what?
- For god's sake, Dyatlov.

Legasov's already given it away.

He said before, there was no way to avoid what was coming.

- He knows something. She knows something.
- Comrade Dyatlov.

DYATLOV: I know what you are, Valery Alexeyevich.

- You're a liar.
- We've heard enough for today.

- The defendants will be remanded in custody.

- Court will...
- I... I haven't finished.

I still have more evidence to give.

It's not necessary. Your testimony is concluded.

- Your Honor.
- Court is now adjourned.

- We will resume tomorrow with...
- SHCHERBINA: Let him finish.


KADNIKOV: Comrade Shcherbina...

Let him finish.

Dyatlov broke every rule we have.


He pushed a reactor to the brink of destruction.

He did these things believing there was a failsafe.

AZ- , a simple button to shut it all down.

But in the circumstances he created, there wasn't.

The shutdown system had a fatal flaw.

At : : , Akimov engages AZ- .


The fully-withdrawn control rods begin moving back into the reactor.

These rods are made of boron, which reduces reactivity, but not their tips.

The tips are made of graphite, which accelerates reactivity.



For the same reason our reactors do not have containment buildings around them, like those in the West.

For the same reason we don't use properly enriched fuel in our cores.

For the same reason we are the only nation that builds water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors with a positive void coefficient.

It's cheaper.


(CLEARS THROAT) The first part of the rods that enter the core are the graphite tips.

And when they do, the reaction in the core, which had been rising, skyrockets.

Every last molecule of liquid water instantly converts to steam, which expands and ruptures a series of fuel rod channels.

The control rods in those channels can move no further.

The graphite tips are fixed in position,endlessly accelerating the reaction.

Chernobyl Reactor is now a nuclear b*mb.

: : .

Perevozchenko looks down

- on the enormous steel lid of the reactor...

...and sees the impossible.

The control rod and fuel channel caps, which each weigh kilograms, are jumping up and down.

He runs to warn the control room.

But there's nothing he can do to stop what is coming.

: and seconds.

- The steam blows more fuel channels apart.

We do not know how high the power went.

We only know the final reading.

Reactor , designed to operate at megawatts, went beyond , .

The pressure inside the core can no longer be held back.

At long last, we have arrived. : : , expl*si*n.

In the instant the lid is thrown off the reactor, oxygen rushes in.

It combines with hydrogen and super-heated graphite.

The chain of disaster is now complete.

AKIMOV (MUFFLED): Comrade Dyatlov!

Comrade Dyatlov!


LEGASOV: No one in the room that night knew the shutdown button could act as a detonator.

They didn't know it, because it was kept from them.

KADNIKOV: Comrade Legasov, you're contradicting your own testimony in Vienna.

My testimony in Vienna was a lie.

- I lied to the world.

I'm not the only one who kept this secret.

There are many.

We were following orders, from the KGB, from the Central Committee.

And right now, there are reactors in the Soviet Union with the same fatal flaw.

Three of them are still running less than kilometers away at Chernobyl.

Professor Legasov, if you mean to suggest the Soviet State is somehow responsible for what happened, then I must warn you, you are treading on dangerous ground.

I've already trod on dangerous ground.

We're on dangerous ground right now, because of our secrets and our lies.

They're practically what define us.

When the truth offends, we lie and lie until we can no longer remember it is even there.

But it is still there.

Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth.

Sooner or later, that debt is paid.

That is how an RBMK reactor core explodes.


Valery Alexeyevich Legasov, son of Alexei Legasov,

Head of Ideological Compliance, Central Committee.

Do you know what your father did there?


As a student, you had a leadership position in Komsomol.

Communist Youth, correct?

- You already know.
- Answer the question.


At the Kuchartov Institute, you were the Communist Party secretary.

In the position, you limited the promotion of Jewish scientists.


To curry favor with Kremlin officials.

You're one of us, Legasov.

I can do anything I want with you.

But what I want most is for you to know that I know.

You're not brave.

You're not heroic.

You're just a dying man who forgot himself.

I know who I am, and I know what I've done.

In a just world, I'd be sh*t for my lies, but not for this, not for the truth.

Scientists... and your idiot obsessions with reasons.

When the b*llet hits your skull, what will it matter why?

No one's getting sh*t, Legasov.

The whole world saw you in Vienna.

It would be embarrassing to k*ll you now.

And for what?

Your testimony today will not be accepted by the State.

It will not be disseminated in the press.

It never happened.

No, you will live, however long you have, but not as a scientist, not anymore.

You'll keep your title and your office, but no duties, no authority, no friends.

No one will talk to you.

No one will listen to you.

Other men, lesser men, will receive credit for the things you have done.

Your legacy is now their legacy.

You'll live long enough to see that.

What role did Shcherbina play in this?


He didn't know what I was gonna say.

What role did Khomyuk play in this?


She didn't know either.

After all you've said and done today, it would be curious if you chose this moment to lie.

I would think a man of your experience would know a lie when he hears one.

You will not meet or communicate with either one of them ever again.

You will not communicate with anyone about Chernobyl ever again.

You will remain so immaterial to the world around you that when you finally do die, it will be exceedingly hard to know that you ever lived at all.

What if I refuse?

Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?


"Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?"

Oh, that's perfect.

They should put that on our money.


LEGASOV (ON TAPE): To be a scientist is to be naive.

We are so focused on our search for truth, we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it.

But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not.

The truth doesn't care about our needs or wants.

It doesn't care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions.

It will lie in wait for all time.

And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl.

Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask: What is the cost of lies?
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