Chernobyl Survivor Says HBO Series Mirrored 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
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  • Tim L.
    07/28/2019 13:26

    Something like when Hillary said 911 was safe.

  • Gerald C.
    07/28/2019 16:52

    Solo se habla de shernovil y q paso con una ciudad q borraron q lo q paso fue peor q shernovil

  • Mel O.
    07/28/2019 16:54

    She radiates!

  • Yasmin F.
    07/28/2019 21:49

    Terrible expolo nuclear, todos murieron en 1986,niña tenia 10 años este sobreviviente a rusia en 1986 recuerda de vivir con miedo nuclear....tambien soldados Rusia mataron perros murieron a casa y calle q terribles dios mios 😱😵😭💔 eso la película de charnobyl esta peor esta historia fuera putin

  • Randy R.
    07/28/2019 22:26

    Another Russian hit piece

  • Ralph W.
    07/29/2019 00:19

    That's what happens when people deny the facts and escape reality instead. What really made me frustrated and angry is when that Soviet old man suggested not to let any citizen leave. And an episode later you see him escaping from the city. I'm halfway through the show so I don't know his fate but I hope that he'll face the consequences of his choices eventually.

  • James A.
    07/29/2019 06:34

    Climate change is very real... because our climate is and always will be changing. Ice core samples tell us that we are on a normal cycle... but that’s just science, right? 🤷‍♂️

  • Najah A.
    07/29/2019 07:33

    The Crimes of USA were more than the crimes of USSR

  • Oussama M.
    07/29/2019 10:00

    Aaaaa u were 10 years old don't act like oh i knew oh i felt oh i was oh i needed 🙄 Girl you age i was silly enough to say yes to this question from mum: "honey give me your money to save thdm for you"

  • Mohamed J.
    07/29/2019 21:42


  • Hasan R.
    07/30/2019 00:32


  • Vicente D.
    07/30/2019 03:05

    Communist-Socialist way to cover it up and not lose face..

  • Oussama A.
    07/30/2019 04:15

    I serve the soviet union

  • Prakash R.
    07/30/2019 05:56

    U.N. should take action to stop all NUCLEAR reactors power generation in all over the world.

  • Yuhanna K.
    07/30/2019 06:22


  • Nick S.
    07/30/2019 10:20

    She's hot.

  • Chihab O.
    07/30/2019 12:39

    Lol hoes allwayes braging Wtf you were 10 You cant remember shitt

  • Tomas D.
    07/30/2019 13:56

    Nuclear power is one of the safest forms of power generation. It is where we should be investing the most time and resources in the future.

  • Ikram E.
    07/30/2019 16:37

    communist way of living was way better than todays democracies. they relocated hundreds of thousands of people and fed them and gave them proper shelter.

  • Saeed E.
    07/30/2019 22:18

    م ع