Thread: Chernobyl

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    #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldCorpse View Post
    ... t it wasn't egregious to the point of falsifying history - as apparently the new Russian version is going to do (blaming CIA agents etc.).

    The biggest problem for the Russians is the simplest one - why haven't they themselves made such a series before HBO did? They didn't because Putin's Russia does not disavow the USSR, or authoritarianism and would love to re-create the Soviet Empire (and are doing their best, including territorial designs on their former republics). These are often the same people - heck, Putin is straight from the Soviet KGB. They are sad at the demise of USSR...
    That's not quite correct. (warning - a minor political/historical treatise to follow).

    Putin's main opposition in Russia is the Communist Party, which had likely won both the 1996 and the 2000 elections (now, those are worth a few flicks too) and the current Russian TV programming is filled with the anti-Soviet era programs. There was even an attempt at a comedy-romance miniseries back in 2011 called "Back to the USSR" (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2725710...nm_flmg_act_17), which riffed off "Back to the Future" with its hero going back to 1975. The Soviet lifestyle was heavily ridiculed because the regime needs to teach the younger folks who had never lived through it about how it was back then.

    PS. Putin's KGB career was a blip on the radar. His influences are far more nefarious than that. And, if anyone can get their hands on "Banditskiy Peterburg", it'd be a solid introduction into the world that made Putin.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0394150...1?ref_=nv_sr_1


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    #12
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    And that's not quite correct in turn . Let's be clear about what it is that Putin and his cronies want - it's not the old economic system that was responsible for the failure of the USSR (in their view). They fully recognize that it was the economic collapse that lead to the ultimate failure of the Soviet Empire. They understandably are opposed to any "communist" agenda insofar as it is an agenda that is at bottom an economic arrangement. It had failed spectacularly. Putin, stationed in East Germany had a full view of the comparison of the two economic systems (East vs West Germany). So yes, absolutely, they oppose communism on those grounds. What they do NOT oppose, indeed mourn in the deepest way, is the empire that the USSR built to become a superpower in its day, primarily driven by the military and geopolitical boom that followed the heroic effort in defeating Nazi Germany. This is unassailable. Putin himself said that "the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophy of the 20th century":

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4480745.stm

    He wasn't mourning the economic system. He was mourning the empire. And it is the empire that they want to rebuild, which entails a muscular aggressive military and economic campaign to dismember and subdue peripheral states, former republics that were part of the old Soviet Empire - that is the meaning behind the assault against Ukraine, Georgia, threats and sabotage against the Baltic Republics, Chechnya and so on. They'd love nothing more than to rebuild that. And they recognize, that the way to that is NOT through the same economic system that caused the collapse in the first place - Communism.

    So are they opposed to communism - yep. Do they still admire and hold dear the power of the old Soviet Empire - yep. Both things are true. It also follows that whatever undermines the prestige of the Empire, is to be opposed - such as this, as they see it, bit of propaganda, "Chernobyl", something made by their enemies, the West. Putin and his people see themselves as the custodians of the Russian Empire, through all of its incarnations, including the Soviet Union. Thus, it goes much deeper than the USSR - the whole history of that region. What they are ultimately loyal to, is the idea of Great Russia going back centuries in continuity, and that is what they want to rebuild. Now, any time you have such empire building, you'll have a lot of crooks and opportunists around, who are quick to personally profit from whatever the ideology is - but that's always true, as much under the Tsars as under the Commisars, and today under Putin's Mafia state.

    Chernobyl is something that they see as fitting into a larger narrative, and that is why it's important.

    Btw. I am not uncritical about this series. While I think that overall the acting was superlative, I have some reservations about Stellan Skarsgard - I think he overacted a bit, and was a bit broad in his portrayal. The relations between the apparatchiks were a lot more subtle and rooted in the mentality of the times - something that were it to be depicted accurately, would not have been understood here in the West. It's a way of thinking that would just not be familiar, and so what the filmmakers went for, is something that is more easily understood here in the West - and that's how you got various crude threats and statements made by the apparatchiks in the series; in reality, it was a great deal more of an "understanding" of "that's how it is", and nobody needed to make such naked threats. But it would have made for a less comprehensible and less dramatic show - all in the service of a versimilitude that would have gone over the heads of the audience out here. So, I don't blame the filmmakers for these faults - there really was a forced choice in some ways - reality is always a lot messier than such filmic depictions.


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    #13
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    On the apparatchiks - members of the ruling hierarchy had no illusion about the realities of the Soviet era privileges and Party life. Ukraine, where Chernobyl's located, was controlled by Brezhnev's crony Vladimir Shcherbitsky from 1972 through 1989. Brezhnev was from Ukraine too and chose his successors wisely. Both were notoriously corrupt and capable of removing people via any means necessary that might interfere with their quest for power. In exchange for his loyalty, Shcherbitsky became Brezhnev's top pick to be the next leader of the USSR. Yuri Andropov spoiled Brezhnev's plans with maneuvering worthy of Cardinal Richelieu. It involved murders, blackmail, arrests, suicides and executions.

    And I learned about them from documentaries made by the Russian TV under Putin's control.*

    * I also read a bunch of books by the people in the know. While the current regime is getting tight on what can be said, there was no real censorship for about fifteen years (1988-2003) and there is a bevvy of very interesting material published during that time frame.

    PS. Putin's line about the end of the USSR was given to an interviewer for the greatest Russian documentary made since ... ever. The filmmakers interviewed or used existing interviews from the major movers and shakers of the era, from those high up in the Reagan and Bush41 administration to the top Germans, who often served as middlemen, to Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin (archive footage) and the top members of their administrations.

    It's in Russian, however (there are other docs too).



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    Side note, the doc may be available in English somewhere but here's a roman a clef that served as the basis for the "Banditsky Peterburg" (loosely translated, "Petersburg, the City of Bandits") series. It's in Russian, obviously, but a computer translation does a pretty decent job here. It explains the realities of the modern Russia far better than "Putin served in the KGB" notion.

    http://loveread.ec/read_book.php?id=23042&p=1

    PS. Putin was in East Germany, a desk jockey under a trade cover. It was not a coveted gig. He retired from KGB in his late 30's with the rank of a Lt. Colonel, a late promotion from major being nothing more than a small golden parachute. By the same age, Yuri Andropov was an Ambassador to Hungary.
    Last edited by DLD; 06-26-2019 at 07:17 PM.


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    I've not read the full book before (saw the 12-part TV series, which mostly stays true to it) but, if all one's interested in is the state of affairs in the USSR of the Chernobyl era 1980's, one could skip to page 23 and then read up a few more.

    I read about 30 pages and was surprised about how much I liked it. I ran Google Translate in spots and, while it chews up some colloquialisms and word plays, it does pretty well with the majority of the text.

    To set up Page 23 --- it's a conversation between the main heroine Katie and her husband Vadim, a man with an important job and lots of connections to the powerful figures of the era.

    If there are any question on the references, let me know.


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    Had a friendly exchange with someone in that part of the world. She thinks Maizin understood the power structure of the 1980's USSR. I held onto my belief that he did not by giving the ruling hierarchy a pass by taking their words at face value, as if they were sincere.


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    Found this on Nikon Rumors - a photo trip into an area.

    https://nikonrumors.com/2019/07/20/t...x/#more-136695


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