Russia Is So Pissed About HBO's 'Chernobyl,' It's Creating Its Own Series

Chernobyl Children International hoping success of HBO mini-series will help increase donations

Despite the glowing global reception, there's one place the series has not gone over well: Russian Federation, specifically in the power corridors of the Kremlin.

Chernobyl series stars Jared Harris as Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist; Stellan Skarsgård as Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission after the Chernobyl disaster; and Emily Watson, who portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what caused the explosion.

The series was commissioned by NTV, a network which is owned by Gazprom Media, aka the media branch of the natural gas company Gazprom known for its pro-government stance, according to THR. The series, which reportedly already shot previous year in Belarus, was partially financed by the Russian Culture Ministry with a grant worth 30 million rubles ($460,000). According to the Times, the production will be anchored in the premise that a Central Intelligence Agency operative was at Chernobyl conducting sabotage. The miniseries based on the Russian disaster was a great start for a slate that includes expected hits like Big Little Lies and The Young Pope, as well as anticipated debuts like His Dark Materials and Watchmen.

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In the Moscow Times, columnist Ilya Shepelin wrote about how many "pro-Kremlin media figures have used their columns or state television programs to chip away at the HBO production's credibility or to gripe about its portrayal of Russian leaders". The Russian show will depict an American CIA operative at Chernobyl conducting sabotage, and a group of KGB officials will try to track down the infiltrator.

"There is a hypothesis with the interference of Americans in the work of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant".

The Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl plant reportedly saw a 30% increase in tourists going to the area in May 2019, shortly after the series first premiered. "The fact that an American, not a Russian, TV channel tells us about our own heroes is a source of shame that the pro-Kremlin media apparently can not live down", writes the Times' Ilya Shepelin. In our review of the final episode, we said that "Chernobyl's pressing horrors reduced to a quiet, but critical, courtroom trial for the series closer".

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