Former Director For Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Believes That HBO Got Villain Right, Hero Wrong

Alexander Kovalenko believes that Evgeny Ignatenko was the unsung hero in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster and that Anatoly Dyatlov should be solely to blame.

a radioactive sign in teh area surrounding hte Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Taken / Pixabay

Alexander Kovalenko believes that Evgeny Ignatenko was the unsung hero in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster and that Anatoly Dyatlov should be solely to blame.

Ever since the limited series Chernobyl dropped to HBO, viewers have been wading through the information to find out what was correctly portrayed in the series and what wasn’t. While the vast majority of the information shown in the TV series is factually correct, there are a few inconsistencies as well as some minor dramatic licenses taken.

Now, the former director for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant has voiced his opinion on two of the characters portrayed in HBO’s Chernobyl. Alexander Kovalenko believes that HBO has managed to capture their villain correctly but believes that the portrayal of Valery Legasov is incorrect.

According to Business Insider, Kovalenko believes that many of the key scenes regarding the Chernobyl disaster are accurate.

“The series more or less reflected the drama of the situation,” Kovalenko said.

“But in real life, it was much worse.”

Kovalenko arrived in July 1986, months after the Chernobyl disaster and worked closely with those involved. One of those he came into contact with was deputy chief engineer Anatoly Dyatlov, one of three men that were later sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp for criminal mismanagement.

Paul Ritter stars as Anatoly Dyatlov
Paul Ritter stars as Anatoly Dyatlov in HBO’s limited miniseries, ‘Chernobyl.’ Liam Daniel / HBO

Previously, Kovalenko has said that Dyatlov had been promised by the Soviet Head of Atomic Energy, Georgy Kopchinski, to be promoted to chief engineer or station director, a claim that Kopchinski has since denied. Regardless of this claim, other power plant engineers did report the insistence on the safety test being run that later led to the Chernobyl disaster.

“Dyatlov was in a hurry to become the boss,” said Kovalenko before also calling Dyatlov an “an arrogant narcissist.”

Dyatlov was sentenced along with Chernobyl plant manager Viktor Bryukhanov and chief engineer Nikolai Fomin in relation to the Reactor 4 meltdown in 1986. However, Kovalenko believes that the blame should be placed entirely on Dyatlov.

“In any complicated system, the weakest element is people. If the driver of a fuel truck by mistake turns into the wall of a tunnel and the car explodes … the driver is guilty.”

While Kovalenko believes that HBO accurately portrayed Dyatlov in Chernobyl, he also believes that the series’ protagonist, scientific investigator Valery Legasov, was incorrect.

Jared Harris stars as Valery Legasov
Jared Harris stars as Valery Legasov in HBO’s limited miniseries, ‘Chernobyl.’ HBO

Legasov is seen in HBO’s Chernobyl to be very proactive in how the situation should be dealt with immediately after the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. However, Kovalenko believes that Legasov was “involved in Chernobyl by accident” after being the only person from the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy who was in Moscow at the time of the disaster.

Kovalenko also points out that Legasov’s idea of blowing liquid nitrogen under the reactor was also a critical mistake on his behalf. As a result of this, Kovalenko believes that this led to further contamination in Belarus. Instead, Kovalenko thinks that professor Evgeny Ignatenko, who spoke out against Legasov regarding the liquid nitrogen suggestion, should be the person credited over Legasov.

Ignatenko, who worked at the Soviet Union’s federal energy ministry, went above and beyond the call of duty in the wake of the reactor explosion. Willing to sacrifice his own health at the expense of others, Kovalenko regards Ignatenko as the “the real key figure” in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the former chairman of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Sergii Parashyn, believes that HBO harshly portrayed Anatoliy Dyatlov and Viktor Bryukhanov, so there certainly appears to be some conflicting information regarding these people and the role they played in the Chernobyl disaster.

The limited miniseries, Chernobyl, is currently airing on HBO.