It would be impossible for modern-day Russia to cover up an accident the size of Chernobyl, the Kremlin said on Friday as mystery continues to surround this month’s rocket engine explosion in northern Russia.
Government officials have given a muted, occasionally contradictory response in the weeks since the Aug. 8 accident that has killed seven people and led to a brief radiation spike. Four of Russia’s nuclear radiation monitoring stations went silent days after the explosion, and doctors in the Arkhangelsk region have said they weren’t warned that they were treating patients exposed to radiation.
The Kremlin dismissed comparisons between the accident and the Soviet Union’s initial cover-up of the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
“The speed of information exchange both within the country and from abroad is so high that situations similar to Chernobyl are in fact impossible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.
“We don’t know how or through what channels the Soviet leadership received information at that time,” Peskov told reporters.
Suppressing information about the Aug. 8 explosion “is out of the question, I can tell you dutifully,” Peskov said. “For one, the president receives information from a multitude of sources.”
Peskov added that he didn’t know whether President Vladimir Putin has watched “Chernobyl,” the popular HBO miniseries based on the 1986 accident.
Putin’s envoy for environmental protection Sergei Ivanov echoed Peskov’s comments on Friday, calling comparisons between the Aug. 8 explosion and Chernobyl “nonsense.”