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- Valery Legasov
Valery Legasov Quotes
|Birthday:||September 1, 1936|
|Birthplace:||Tula, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union|
|Educated At:||D. Mendeleev University Of Chemical Technology Of Russia|
|Manner of Death:||Suicide|
|Political Parties:||Communist Party Of The Soviet Union|
|Occupations:||University Teacher, Chemist, Physicist|
Birthday: September 1, 1936
Birthplace: Tula, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Educated At: D. Mendeleev University Of Chemical Technology Of Russia
Manner of Death: Suicide
Political Parties: Communist Party Of The Soviet Union
Nationality: Soviet Union
Occupations: University Teacher, Chemist, Physicist
What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn't matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is: 'Who is to blame?' In this story, it was Anatoly Dyatlov. He was the best choice. An arrogant, unpleasant man, he ran the room that night, he gave the orders... and no friends. Or at least, not important ones. And now Dyatlov will spend the next ten years in a prison labor camp. Of course, that sentence is doubly unfair. There were far greater criminals than him at work. And as for what Dyatlov did do, the man doesn't deserve prison. He deserves death. [Legasov stops the tape, sips a glass of water, and then starts recording where he left off] But instead, ten years for "criminal mismanagement". What does that mean? No one knows. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that, to them, justice was done. Because, you see, to them, a just world is a sane world. There was nothing sane about Chernobyl. What happened there, what happened after, even the good we did, all of it... all of it, madness. Well, I've given you everything I know. They'll deny it, of course. They always do. I know you'll try your best.”
General Nikolai Tarakanov: It's not humbling, it's humiliating. Why is the core still exposed to the air? Why have we not already covered it up?
Legasov: We want to, but we can't get close enough. The debris on the roof is graphite from the core itself. Until we can push it off the roof back into the reactor, it'll kill anyone who gets near it. You see the roof is in three levels. We've named them. The small one here is Katya, one thousand roentgen per hour. Presume two hours of exposure is fatal. The one on the side, Nina, two thousand roentgen. One hour, fatal.
Tarakanov: We used remote-controlled bulldozers in Afghanistan.
Shcherbina: Too heavy. They'd fall right through.
Tarakanov: So then...?
Legasov: Moon rovers. Lunokhod STR-1s. They're light. And if we line them with lead, they can withstand the radiation.
Shcherbina: We couldn't put a man on the Moon. At least we can keep a man off the roof.
Legasov: That is the most important thing, General. Under no circumstances can men go up there.
Tarakanov: What about this large section here?
Shcherbina: [grimly] Masha.
Legasov: Twelve thousand roentgen. If you were to stand there in full protective gear head-to-toe for two minutes, your life expectancy would be cut in half. By three minutes, you're dead within months. Even our lunar rovers won't work on Masha. That amount of gamma radiation penetrates everything. The particles literally shred the circuits in microchips apart. If it's more complicated than a light switch, Masha will destroy it.
Shcherbina: It would be fair to say that that piece of roof is the most dangerous place on Earth.
Tarakanov: [sits in stunned silence for a moment, before taking a draw from his cigarette] So... what do we do?
Shcherbina: That's what we wanted to ask you.”
To be a scientist is to be naive. We are so focused on our search for truth, we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it. But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not. The truth doesn't care about our needs or wants. It doesn't care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions. It will lie in wait for all time. And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl. Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask: ‘What is the cost of lies?’”
Khomyuk: They didn't hurt me. They let a pregnant woman in with—oh, it doesn't matter. They were stupid. I was stupid. Dyatlov don't talk to me. Akimov, yes, Toptunov, yes, but... Valery, Akimov... his face was gone.
Legasov: You want to stop?
Khomyuk: Is that a choice I even have?
Legasov: Do you think the fuel will actually melt through the concrete pad?
Khomyuk: I don't know. A forty-percent chance, maybe.
Legasov: I said fifty. [chuckles] Either way, the numbers mean the same thing: ‘Maybe.' Maybe the core will melt through to the groundwater. Maybe the miners I've told to dig under the reactor will save millions of lives. Maybe I'm killing them for nothing. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to stop. But I can't. I don't you have a choice any more than I do. I think, despite the stupidity, the lies, even this, you are compelled. The problem has been assigned, and you will stop at nothing until you find an answer. Because that is who you are.
Khomyuk: A lunatic, then.
Legasov: A scientist.”
Kadnikov: Comrade Legasov, you're contradicting your own testimony in Vienna.
Legasov: My testimony in Vienna was a lie. I lied to the world. I'm not the only one who kept this secret. There are many. We were following orders, from the KGB, from the Central Committee. And right now, there are 16 reactors in the Soviet Union with the same fatal flaw. Three of them are still running less than 20 kilometers away at Chernobyl.
Kadnikov: Professor Legasov, if you mean to suggest the Soviet State is somehow responsible for what happened, then I must warn you, you are treading on dangerous ground.
Legasov: I've already trod on dangerous ground. We're on dangerous ground right now, because of our secrets and our lies. They're practically what define us. When the truth offends, we lie and lie until we can no longer remember it is even there. But it is...still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid. That is how...an RBMK reactor core explodes: Lies.”
Charkov: [reads file] Valery Alexeyevich Legasov, son of Alexei Legasov, Head of Ideological Compliance, Central Committee. Do you know what your father did there?
Charkov: As a student, you had a leadership position in Komsomol. Communist Youth, correct?
Legasov: You already know.
Charkov: Answer the question.
Charkov: At the Kuchartov Institute, you were the Communist Party secretary. In the position, you limited the promotion of Jewish scientists.
Charkov: To curry favor with Kremlin officials. You're one of us, Legasov. I can do anything I want with you. But what I want most is for you to know that I know. You're not brave. You're not heroic. You're just a dying man who forgot himself.
Legasov: I know who I am, and I know what I've done. In a just world, I'd be shot for my lies, but not for this, not for the truth.
Charkov: Scientists...and your idiot obsessions with reasons. When the bullet hits your skull, what will it matter why? [beat] No one's getting shot, Legasov. The whole world saw you in Vienna; it would be embarrassing to kill you now. And for what? Your testimony today will not be accepted by the State. It will not be disseminated in the press. It never happened. No... you will live, however long you have. But not as a scientist. Not anymore. You'll keep your title and your office, but no duties. No authority. No friends. No one will talk to you. No one will listen to you. Other men, lesser men, will receive credit for the things you have done. Your legacy is now their legacy; you will live long enough to see that. [beat] What role did Shcherbina play in this?
Legasov: None. He didn't know what I was gonna say.
Charkov: What role did Khomyuk play in this?
Legasov: None. She didn't know either.
Charkov: After all you've said and done today, it would be curious if you chose this moment to lie.
Legasov: I would think a man of your experience would know a lie when he hears one.
Charkov: [beat] You will not meet or communicate with either one of them ever again. You will not communicate with anyone about Chernobyl ever again. You will remain so immaterial to the world around you that when you finally do die, it will be exceedingly hard to know that you ever lived at all. [starts to exit]
Legasov: What if I refuse?
Charkov: [turns back to face Legasov] Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?
Legasov: [Scoffs] ‘Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?’ Oh, that's perfect. They should put that on our money.”
Legasov: She was arrested by the KGB. You are the first deputy chairman of the KGB.
Aleksandr Charkov: [amused] I am. That's why I don't have to bother with arresting people anymore.
Legasov: But you are bothering with having us followed.
Shcherbina: I think the deputy chairman is busy...
Charkov: No no, it's perfectly understandable. Comrade, I know you've heard the stories about us. When I hear them, even I am shocked. But we are not what people say. Yes, people are following you. People are following those people. And you see them? They follow me. The KGB is a circle of accountability. Nothing more.
Legasov: You know the work we're doing here. You really don't trust us?
Charkov: Of course I do. But you know the old Russian proverb: ‘Trust, but verify.’ And the Americans think that Ronald Reagan thought that up. Can you imagine? It was very nice speaking with you. [turns to walk away]
Legasov: I need her.
Charkov: [turns back] So you will be accountable for her? [Legasov nods] Then it's done.
Legasov: Her name is—
Charkov: I know who she is. Good day, Professor. [walks off; Legasov glances at Shcherbina]
Shcherbina: No, that went surprisingly well. You came off like a naive idiot. And naive idiots are not a threat.”