Documents from the highest levels of the Soviet Union, including notes, protocols and diaries of Politburo sessions in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 have been published today by the National Security Archive in the form of an e-book.
The book Top Secret Chernobyl details the sequence of cover-up, revelation, shock, mobilization, individual bravery, and bureaucratic turf battles in the then Soviet Union.
Top Secret Chernobyl is the first part of a two-volume documentary publication, walking through the Chernobyl story from July 1986.
The second part will include Soviet military reporting on the radiation contamination, the process of liquidation that followed the series of events, along with more foreign reactions to the disaster.
The chapter posted on August 17 begins with the deputy’s essay that is written exclusively for this publication – where she reviews the Chernobyl story and her own efforts dating back to 1986 to document and expose the lies and the secrecy that surrounded the disaster.
This publication also contains declassified reactions from the US State Department’s intelligence bureau, the CIA, and the National Security Council’s Jack Matlock, as well as reporting from the Ukrainian KGB.
Excerpts from the diary of Politburo member Vitaly Vorotnikov, notes on Politburo sessions by Anatoly Chernyaev, and excerpts from rare “official working copies” of Politburo sessions that were originally published in Russian by former Rosarchiv director Rudolf Pikhoia in 2000 are included in the book.
The author Adam Higginbotham, whose book Midnight in Chernobyl (2019) illuminates the tragedy with quotations from his hundreds of interviews, also relied on a trove of Soviet-era documents collected by the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev.
Key sources include protocols of the Politburo Operational Group on Chernobyl that were originally published in Russian by the journalist and former Supreme Soviet deputy Alla Yaroshinskaya in 1992.