Paul Ritter plays Anatoly Dyatlov in Chernobyl. Dyatlov was the deputy chief engineer at Chernobyl. Dyatlov was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the explosion but was released after five years.


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The Chernobyl Disaster remains the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in human history. The explosion at nuclear reactor no. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the early hours of April 26, 1986, saw large quantities of dangerous radioactive substances dispersed into the atmosphere, with the subsequent radioactive fallout hundreds of times more than the combined effect of the two nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US in World War II. It could have been much much worse, however.


HBO’s ‘Chernobyl,’ (2019) is a five-part miniseries on the nuclear disaster that “dramatizes the true story of one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history,”

Dyatlov was the deputy chief engineer of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the supervisor of the catastrophic test that culminated in the explosion at reactor no. 4. In the later trials it was found that prior to the disaster, Dyatlov is believed to have threatened workers with termination if they did not go ahead with the test though its flaws were obvious.

He also flat out refused to accept that the core of the reactor had exploded, pointing to measurements of woefully outdated dosimeters that showed the radiation to be a meager 3.6 roentgen as proof for his assertion.

However, his proximity to the reactor meant he was exposed to a dose of approximately 445 roentgen, which causes death in 50 percent of affected persons after just 30 days. He miraculously survived, though he was tried for failure to follow safety regulations and sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison. He was granted amnesty after serving five years but succumbed to heart failure in 1995.

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Soon after Dyatlov was released from prison in 1990 due to health concerns, he wrote an article for Nuclear Engineering International Magazine, in which he stated that “the design of the RBMK-1000 [reactor] was not a contributor, not a major factor, but the sole reason for the Chernobyl accident.”

Dyatlov’s NEI Magazine article provides a thorough and deeply scientific explanation of his perspective on the reactor, but for those interested in his perspective without having to learn a great deal about nuclear power, his interview with the Washington Post communicates his anger succinctly.

“The investigation was carried out by the very people who were responsible for the faulty design of the reactor,” Dyatlov tells The Washington Post. “If they had admitted that the reactor had been the cause of the accident, then the West would have demanded the closing down of all other reactors of the same type,” Dyatlov claims that he and other Chernobyl workers were treated as scapegoats as to keep the Nuclear Energy Industry alive and profitable.

“If I had known then what I know now about what kind of monster this reactor was, I would never have gone to work at Chernobyl,” Dyatlov claims. “And not only me. Nobody would have worked there.”

Dyatlov was portrayed by the versatile British actor Paul Ritter. Ritter tragically died earlier this year of a brain tumour on 5 April 2021, aged 54, in his home, surrounded by his family. He had numerous roles in films including Son of Rambow (2007), Quantum of Solace (2008), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and The Eagle (2011), as well as television programmes including Friday Night Dinner (2011–2020), Vera, The Hollow Crown, The Last Kingdom, Chernobyl, Belgravia and Resistance.


Anatoly Dyatlov in Chernobyl (2019)


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Anatoly Dyatlov Portrayal




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