The Chernobyl disaster: Implications for the Soviet Union and glasnost


Author/Creator ORCID






Bachelor's Degree

Citation of Original Publication


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My research focused on the origins and development of the Soviet nuclear power industry, how the Soviet Union’s political climate in the 1980’s shaped the reaction to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and how environmental and political policy shifted in the aftermath of the disaster. To explore this topic, I utilized primary sources such as government documents, speeches, and firsthand accounts. I used mostly secondary sources to discuss the history of the nuclear industry. I relied mainly on government documents to detail problems with infrastructure. I obtained these documents from a collection in Goucher’s library, Revelations from the Russian Archives: Documents in English Translation. This volume was very useful, since it contained several previously secret Soviet documents. By using the information in these documents, I was able to find out what information the government was holding back. To write about the accident and its immediate aftermath, I relied heavily on another book I found in the Goucher library called Chernobyl: A Documentary Story, by Iurii Shcherbak. This is a collection of interviews with those who responded to the accident and workers and residents of Chernobyl and the nearby city of Prypyat. In the second section of my paper, I link these stories together with supplemental information received from other sources to piece together how citizens initially responded to the disaster. This paper was great practice in taking copious notes, and then arranging those notes in a sensible way, which required editing of the research that I found. I also learned how to pick the most compelling quotes to use, and how to weave these individual stories together to form an anecdotal account of an event whose legacy lives on in primary sources.