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Valery Legasov Quotes

Total quotes: 7
[April 26, 1988: Alone in his apartment in Moscow, Professor Valery Legasov replays his voice on a tape recorder]
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.”
Legasov: [showing pictures of the damaged reactor] The atom is a humbling thing.

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.”
[Legasov is arrested by the KGB for refusing to toe the party line and is led to a private interrogation room]

Charkov: [reads file] Valery Alexeyevich Legasov, son of Alexei Legasov, Head of Ideological Compliance, Central Committee. Do you know what your father did there?

Legasov: Yes.

Charkov: As a student, you had a leadership position in Komsomol. Communist Youth, correct?

Legasov: You already know.

Charkov: Answer the question.

Legasov: Yes.

Charkov: At the Kuchartov Institute, you were the Communist Party secretary. In the position, you limited the promotion of Jewish scientists.

Legasov: Yes.

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.”
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