Cuban Aid: What HBO Didn’t Mention In Their ‘Chernobyl’ Series

"Although Cuba went through economically difficult times, our state continued to offer specialized treatment to minors, fulfilling a commitment of solidarity"

HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ has been criticised for being historically inaccurate, but on Sunday, Cuba pointed out that their crucial role in providing free treatment to the victims is being airbrushed out of history.

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The recent HBO series takes a look at the events of the 1986 tragedy in Chernobyl, where an explosion at a nuclear facility in the former USSR caused huge damage in loss of life and radiation poisoning. The series, featuring entirely British actors, has been accused of being an anti-soviet smear piece aimed at protraying the Soviets as selfish and incompentent, one Russian outlet  Rossiyskaya Gazeta  said.

“The people are depicted as drunken lowlifes, to the extent that you find in some Hollywood movies, where Slavs show up as these disgusting, repulsive characters.”

Furthermore, Russian media has accused the show of multiple historical inaccuracies, journalist Alexander Kots says that a helicopter crash that appears in the series in fact happened at an entirely different time, and that the way the treatment of miners is depicted has no basis in historical fact.  

However, Cuban media has now waded into the row, accusing HBO of airbrushing the socialist island’s role in providing free treatment to those affected by the disaster. Cuban outlet Cubadebate laid out the extent to which Cuba helped Chernobyl victims.

At the beaches of Tarara, 30 kilometres from Havana, Cuba had converted an elite holiday village into an enormous health center for children who had been affected by the nuclear disaster.

The health complex contained hospitals, schools and recreational areas, where children could recover in a holistic setting. Cubadebate reported on sunday that over 25,000 children were treated for radiation poisoning between 1990 and 2011, mainly for cancer, deformations, muscle atrophy and other conditions related to radiation.

The comprehensive treatment that was provided also fell within Cuba’s ‘special period’ of intense economic hardship that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, leaving Cuba without its main export customer. Despite the economic difficulties of those years, the treatment center in Tarara continued to operate. One Cuban doctor spoke to teleSUR about the programme in 2017, saying, "Although Cuba went through economically difficult times, our state continued to offer specialized treatment to minors, fulfilling a commitment of solidarity."

 
  • Published in Now

Russia to make its own show about Chernobyl that implicates the US

Russian state TV is working on its own version of Chernobyl, a series based on the worst nuclear accident in history.

The NTV drama will deviate from the acclaimed HBO series - and from historical reality - by claiming that the CIA was involved in the disaster.

Director Alexey Muradov claims it will show "what really happened back then".

HBO's miniseries, which concluded on Monday, received the highest ever score for a TV show on IMdB, as well as a 9.1 rating on Russian equivalent Kinopoisk.

But in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia's most widely-read tabloid, Mr Muradov said his version of the show "proposes an alternative view on the tragedy in Pripyat".

"There is a theory that Americans infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," he told the paper. "Many historians do not rule out the possibility that on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy's intelligence services was working at the station."

The Hollywood Reporter reports that the Russian culture ministry has contributed 30 million rubles ($463,000; £363,000) to the show.

The No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded on 26 April 1986 in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat.

At least 31 people were killed in the immediate aftermath, and the effects continue to be felt to this day.

What did Russia think of HBO's Chernobyl?

There has been plenty of praise in Russia for the authenticity of Chernobyl.

Izvestia newspaper declared it a more 'realistic' portrayal of the era than most Russian films manage. There's also admiration of how the series conveys the heroism of ordinary people.

But there's been a crescendo of criticism, too. One columnist declared the show a plot to undermine Russia's current atomic agency. Others called it American 'propaganda', blackening the image of the USSR and exaggerating the callousness of the Soviet response.

No-one disputes that it's got people talking. They're been busy sharing their own Chernobyl stories on social media, with younger Russians often hearing them for the first time. So one Twitter user thanked the series for 'giving us back our history.'

In the end, as one commentator concludes, the main reason for the backlash is likely a feeling of shame that it was the US that told the tale of Chernobyl, not Russia itself.

The show has been particularly unpopular with Russian state TV and the country's tabloid newspapers.

Speaking to TV website Teleprogramma, columnist Anatoly Wasserman said: "If Anglo-Saxons film something about Russians, it definitely will not correspond to the truth."

This, he continued, was because "they don't like us" and "they cannot understand us".

Komsomolskaya Pravda published several negative articles about the show - including one floating a conspiracy theory that it was produced by competitors of Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear company, to ruin the country's reputation as a nuclear power.

But reviewers in independent media outlets praised its writer Craig Mazin for his minute attention to detail.

Slava Malamud, a US-based journalist who grew up during the Soviet era in what is now Moldova, wrote on the independent Russian news site Meduza that "the respect and meticulousness the show's creators brought to their work is breathtaking".

"Like I see the license plate for a car in one scene has the real numbers for the [Kiev] region," he said. "Who's going to notice that in America or England?"

Meanwhile, Moscow Times journalist Ilya Shepelin says that the fact that a US channel produced the show "is a source of shame that the pro-Kremlin media apparently cannot live down".

"[The show's] episodes focus on the harrowing and self-sacrificing struggle that the Soviet people waged against the consequences of the explosion. And it was these people who saved Europe - at the cost of their own lives and health," he writes.

"Russia, however, does not honour these individuals as heroes who saved Europe."

  • Published in Culture

‘Threat of 2nd Chernobyl’: Kiev’s new nuclear project puts Europe at risk, Greens warn

The construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Ukraine poses “significant safety risks for the whole of Europe” because of numerous rule and standards violations, Ukrainian environmentalists warn.

The Ukrainian Greens Association, a non-profit environmentalist organization, listed the risks in a statement released on Monday.

“We are deeply concerned about plans to build a spent nuclear fuel storage in the upper reaches of the Dnepr River close to densely populated places,” the statement said, citing a speech made by the association’s spokeswoman, Anna Rak, at the first Nuclear Energy Policy Forum in Brussels on June 30.

Rak also emphasized that the government plans “to secretly fast-track the construction of a surface dry, spent nuclear fuel storage system… close to the Dnepr river,” ignoring basic safety standards and “creating the threat of a second Chernobyl.”

Ukraine’s Greens stressed that the decision to build the facility just 70 kilometers away from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, was taken “without a proper environmental impact assessment and public consultation with the [local] residents.”

 
They also warned that the contractor for the project, Holtec International, actually lacks sufficient experience while the technology it plans to use in construction has never been tested or tried in any other country.

The association added that the procedure of choosing the contractor was “neither transparent nor open,” warning that Ukraine may once again become a subject to “unpredictable and dangerous nuclear experiments,” apparently referring to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The organization demanded that Ukrainian authorities “ensure that the project complies with all international rules and standards before the construction is launched” and emphasized that the residents of the Kiev region have “an unconditional right” to get all relevant information about the project and to take part in the discussion concerning its construction.

The Ukrainian Greens Association also urged the European Commission, the European Parliament and international environmental bodies to carry out an “independent environmental assessment of the project.”

The warning for the Ukrainian Greens came just as the Ukrainian Energy Minister Igor Nasalik confirmed that the government secured a $260 million loan to finance the construction project.

The move also comes amid mounting concerns about the future of the European nuclear energy sector as over about 45 percent of current nuclear plants are expected to go offline in the next 10 years.

As Europe is sluggish with its large-scale projects, further slowed down by engineering, construction and financial woes, two meetings in Paris and Brussels were organized in June by the New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE) advocacy group to discuss he hottest issues impeding progress in the nuclear sector – costs and hazards.

All participants agreed on the necessity to develop a common continental standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management, with the case of Ukraine in particular appearing to emphasize this necessity.

Paris also held the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE), where leading energy companies discussed the matter, shortly before the NNWE meetings were held.

  • Published in World
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