HBO’s smash-hit TV series ‘Chernobyl’ shook up the entertainment industry and also roiled the world at large. Besides becoming the highest fan-scored TV show on IMDB and beating Game of thrones in digital viewership, it ignited the Cold War politics. Russia called it another American vilification campaign against the country. It now plans to produce its own version of ‘Chernobyl’ which will twist the history and show that it was actually the CIA that triggered the nuclear disaster at the plant near the town of Pripyat, now in Ukraine, in 1986.
The series also caused a surge in tourism. Local companies that offer guided tours to the disaster site have reported a substantial rise in the number of tourists.
‘Chernobyl’ has also inspired people in Kazakhstan to rethink about a nuclear plant being planned in the country. Though a site has been chosen for the plant in the Almaty province, no concrete steps have been taken yet. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered help to build the plant. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s leading uranium producer and exporter.
The HBO series came when the proposal for the plant was already being debated in Kazakhstan. Though not many in the country would have watched the series, it echoed in the protesting voices social media. “I’m not an expert on ‘the peaceful atom’… but after watching the [Chernobyl] film I’m against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan,” well-known blogger Zhanna Ilyicheva posted on Facebook, according to a news report.
“I have finally watched the brilliant series from HBO – Chernobyl,” said Kazakhstani filmmaker Zhanna Issabayeva in a Facebook post. “Never, never, never in Kazakhstan should there be a nuclear power plant. NEVER. I don’t know what we, Kazakhstanis, need this for? … Everyone should watch [the series].”
A local tweeted to Craig Mazin, the writer-producer of the series: “Hello, Craig! I want to say thank you for your work on the show! I watched Chernobyl with my lil sister, who didn’t know very well about this story. And now she has found a monument to the liquidators in one of the parks of our city (we live in Karaganda, Kazakhstan).”
Already the politicians were finding it tough to convince people to accept a nuclear plant in a country that has seen hundreds of nuclear tests (when it was part of the Soviet Union) and health hazards caused by them.
New Scientist revealed in 2017, based on a newly uncovered report, that Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan was a nuclear disaster four times worse than Chernobyl in terms of the number of cases of acute radiation sickness, but Moscow covered up its effects on people’s health in the 50’s.
A scientific expedition from Moscow in the aftermath of the hushed-up disaster uncovered widespread radioactive contamination and radiation sickness across the Kazakh steppes, said the report. The scientists then tracked the consequences as nuclear bomb tests continued — without telling the people affected or the outside world.