Chernobil Controversy: A Stone On The Road To Gorbachev

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Chernobil controversy: a stone on the road to Gorbachev


The overthrow of the USSR is due to many aspects that accumulated over time, such as a failed economy, a weakened power due to the cold war –mas the lifting of the United States above this – and the reforms that Gorbachev imposed on the eve of the fall were some of the causes for which the Soviet Union dissolved.

This document addresses a very particular and somewhat "external" cause, so to speak, to Soviet politics. On April 26, 1986, the number four reactor of the Chernobil nuclear plant exploded after a security test, thus becoming the largest nuclear disaster in history. What does Chernobil have to do with the fall of the USSR?, By 1986 the Soviet Union was not the same as before, although the Soviet appeared that it was still, the collapse saw it coming.

When the explosion happened, the government immediately tried to hide everyone what had happened. But how can you hide something like Chernobil? The answer is that it cannot be hidden, and that was precisely what the Soviet government did not calculate well.

The censorship with which the Government handled the disaster enraged the international population and resulted in the general discontent of the people and a social pressure of the other nations towards the USSR. Annexed to the economic, political and social causes, the accident ended up annihilating one of the largest powers of the time.

The general objective of this essay is to describe and analyze as an external event to the policy of the former Soviet Union such as this nuclear catastrophe, was so controversial worldwide and had to do with the overthrow of the socialist country. As well as identify the role that internal and external media had in the propagation of information and finally explain the position of the Mikhail Gorbachev government. Realism will be the theoretical approach to explain the exercise of the power of the main powers of that time.

The work is divided into 5 sub -themes, the first theme raises the background of the accident to have a complete bread. The second part briefly describes the story of what was the explosion and the processes that were carried out to stop it. The third part talks about the role that the media had in the diffusion of ideological news and propaganda. Fourth part or fourth sub -theme analyzes the versions of the two superpowers to illustrate their differences. The last part of this work tries to explain why Chernobil was an important factor in the fall of the Soviet Union, a factor that experts, in most cases, never address.


The USSR existed from 1922 to 1991. He was born in 1922 after the revolutions in Russia of 1917 that defeated the Tsarist regime. After the dismissal of the tsar.

With the Bolsheviks in command, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was born, with Vladimir Lenin as the maximum leader, under the ideology of communism. After Lenin’s death in 1953, Stalin remains as his successor, who ends his mandate in 1953.

The USSR is involved in World War II and ends as the winner with the United States. After the war, one of the objectives of the USSR was to get up as a power and compete with the other winner, the United States, in all possible fields. This is how these superpowers are born that would later play for the first place in this race for the power called Cold War.

There is no exact date for the beginning of the cold war, but if there is a starting point, it must be at the end of World War II. These powers had mainly ideological tees. The United States wanted to stop the expansion of communism and the USSR wanted. Meanwhile, the two sides faced each other possible, competing to be the best power in everything.

The world lived many moments where it seemed that tension could not be greater, an example, the missile crisis in Cuba. The arms race rose level with the development of nuclear weapons from the decade of the fifties. The world knew the scope of a nuclear war, so countries tried to avoid it at all costs, but always maintaining a level of hostility.

For the year of 1986, the USSR was not the same as at the beginning of the Cold War, it was gradually weakening and wrapped in a world of contradictions, the Gorbachev Mikhail Government had just 13 months when the explosion in Chernobil happened.

A brief chernobil story

On April 26, 1986, the reactor number four of the Chernobil nuclear power plant located in Ukraine (very close to the border with Belarus) exploded beam). This central was built in the 70s under the name of Chernobyl after Vladimir Scherbitsky – Lider of the Communist Party of Ukraine – signed a decree that said that the Nuclar central was going to receive the name of the small city from which it was close.

On April 25, 1986, a test was carried out in the number 4 reactor in which plant scientists would know if when losing electric supply, the reactor would cool. At 1:24 in the morning of Saturday, April 26, the reactor exploded, which after small explosions inside, volume the roof of the plant, sending to the atmosphere a very dangerous amount of radioactive particles.

For this test there were many security protocols and everything was "perfectly calculated", however, it seems that no one followed those protocols since the central ended exploding, sending a cloud of radiation that covered all Pripyat in question of minutes of minutes. Adam Higginbotham assures in his book.

Minutes after the explosion the firefighters arrived, with their normal work unifrome. Firefighters received orders to go out "a fire", they had no idea what they were facing. Many died hours after arriving at the central. Those firefighters and all the people who worked together to try to stop fire are known as "liquidators". Between April 27 and May 1, around 1800 helicopter flights were made with materials such as sand and lead that were thrown towards flame reactor. But the continuous fire for days and more and more people faced – almost – of radiation.

The USSR treats the subject with such caution, that not even the inhabitants of Pripyat knew the risk they were running. Liudmila Ignatenko says about it "No one talked about radiation … only the military went with masks. The people of the city carried their bread from the stores, the bags open with the buns … on the shelves there were cakes.’

The authorities began to evacuate the inhabitants of the small city, the days following the explosion. After absorbing large amounts of radiation. The historian Serhii Plokhy estimates that around 50,000 people were evacuated in total. The authorities said it would be only for a few days. The inhabitants of the towns near the plant could not carry anything that was not indispensable and should be packaged light. They were not told that they would never return to their homes. They left furniture, clothing, pets, left their lives behind.

According to The Nuclear Monitor magazine, around 9 million people between Ukraine, Russia and Belarus; They were directly affected due to the radiation cloud that stalked the Soviet Union and neighboring countries. 

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