#Chernobyl: How long was Gorbachev in power? What did he say about Chernobyl?

Mikhail Gorbachev (played in Chernobyl by David Dencik) said in an op-ed after he was in power that he blamed the disintegration of the USSR specifically on the events at Chernobyl, which were dramatised recently in a HBO and Sky series. Chernobyl, he said, exposed the flaws inherent in the Soviet Union and its policiy of keeping secrets. HBO and Sky viewers can see how Gorbachev and the rest of the USSR dealt with the explosion at Chernobyl now.

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How long was Gorbachev in power?

Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, when the Soviet Union was dissolved as a result of a coup against him.

During this time, he was responsible for the policy of glasnost (openness), which meant more freedom of speech and press at home and more so-operation with foreign powers abroad.

This was combined with perestroika (restructuring), which decentralised economic power, arguably directly leading to the breakdown of the USSR into separate nation states.

Both of these major policies expanded as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, which exposed many of the faults of the Soviet Union.


mikhail gorbachevMikhail Gorbachev said the events at Chernobyl were directly responsible for the fall of the USSR (Image: GETTY)

Did Chernobyl trigger the disintegration of the USSR?

According to Gorbachev himself, Chernobyl was directly responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union.

As described at the end of the Chernobyl series, Gorbachev wrote in 2006: “The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl...was perhaps the true cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

This quote was from an op-ed Gorbachev wrote for the Japan Times in 2006, where he also wrote: “Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point.

“There was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.”


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