Chernobyl Survivor Says HBO Series Mirrored Her Reality

She was 10 years old during the Chernobyl disaster — and this survivor found the HBO series to be healing. Here's what she remembers about living in fear of nuclear poisoning.

Nobody wanted to believe it

Watching HBO's Chernobyl miniseries became a healing experience for Sophia Moskalenko. She was 10 when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened and remembers how Soviet officials denied its danger. On April 26, 1986, Chernobyl’s 4th reactor exploded during a botched safety test. Moskalenko lived in Kyiv, Ukraine — 60 miles from Chernobyl. But radiation was spreading through the air and in the rain. She first learned about this via a neighbor who was a nuclear scientist.

“I remember hearing her say that it wasn't actually a fire, that it was an explosion. And she explained how radiation worked which I knew nothing about up until that point but it sounded really scary that it was this invisible thing that you couldn't smell and you couldn't sense in any way and yet that it could kill you. I started seeing things that were unusual the first thing I remember was this huge truck that was spraying water and then a huge brush rotated behind it, washing the streets and I only saw those trucks before prior to that time in anticipation of parades on major holidays so it was unusual that I would do so on just an average weekday. That was my moment when officially in my mind it moved from, "Is it really that bad?" to "Yeah it's really that bad."

Other facts started to contradict official news. Many objects and food became radioactive, but nobody wanted to believe it. In May 1986, the government announced a mandatory evacuation for schoolchildren. Moskalenko spent 3 months at a camp in Crimea. Moskalenko has been consistently wary of the looming effects of radiation. After the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Moskalenko left Ukraine to study in the U.S. She’s been living in Pennsylvania since 2004 but is still distrustful of official news.


07/28/2019 11:57 AM


  • Rohit N.
    08/05/2019 09:35

    Aren't the Soviet Union and Current US govt are the same??

  • Shivam A.
    08/03/2019 09:51

    A similar series should be made about Bhopal gas tragedy.

  • Aim D.
    08/01/2019 01:16

    Chant Yalena

  • Kavith V.
    07/31/2019 21:57

    Chernobyl will go down in history as the biggest man made disaster ever. It remains the nuclear disaster of the highest degree along with the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan till this date

  • Parvez M.
    07/31/2019 18:39

    Too boring to talk about it now, when everything is under control.

  • Ruby Y.
    07/31/2019 18:28

    Most people forgot about Chernobyl Nuclear Power Blast in 1986 in Ukraine. It killed most of its residence and it left a Ghost Nuclear Power Plant that up to now still is unhabited because of its radiation and presence of harmful chemicals even plants dont grow. You should watch the Chernobyl Documentaries. Its scary cause you might not see effects now but in later LIFE people get sick for unknown reasons.

  • Neela M.
    07/31/2019 11:32


  • Gagan B.
    07/31/2019 10:29

    Chernobyl is the best series ever made🙌

  • Ramya S.
    07/31/2019 09:22

    India being tight lipped about nuclear energy

  • Ahlem M.
    07/31/2019 07:33

    hhh salémmmm

  • Mohamed M.
    07/31/2019 06:52

    What Soviet govt said in 80's Indian govt saying now..." its perfectly safe to dump nuclear waste in tamil nadu..."

  • Sam P.
    07/31/2019 05:50

    Last point makes sense

  • Marighnamani K.
    07/31/2019 04:05

    real story of Chernobyl from an actual survivor

  • Lulu Q.
    07/31/2019 03:40

    She is trying to validate our fear that her former place, Chernobyl will come down in history that NUCLEAR is more evil if it is allowed to exist within people's midst. With no precautions issued ever before the disaster ensued and caused fall and ruins. One of the greatest lesson learned in the century where the genius of men created it and perished with it bringing along with them many others. The price of putting up measures against our own massive and huge fear of POWER AND CONTROL.

  • Hero I.
    07/31/2019 03:35


  • Abderahman H.
    07/30/2019 23:21

    Can the HBO give the real history of chernobyl he cant

  • Saeed E.
    07/30/2019 22:18

    م ع

  • Kumar S.
    07/30/2019 21:57

    Anukrati Sahir Priyanka

  • Lanius X.
    07/30/2019 20:03

    If she was 10 at 1986 then now she'd be 43... She looks like 25 and her voice is young too... Plus she tells a neighbor who was a nuclear scientist told how radiation work.. Like imagine a person telling a 10 year old about radiation.. :|

  • Ajay K.
    07/30/2019 19:37

    Hari Krishnan

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