In HBO mini-series Chernobyl there is a subplot that spans 2(?) episodes involving a young draftee Pavel, played by Barry Keoghan.

I'd say he's quite a famous actor but in the series he's just shooting stray dogs for a few minutes of screen time.

I can understand the significance of the other subplots in the series but this one eludes me.

What was the significance to this subplot? Was there any relation to real world events?


1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a connection to real world events: According to the wikipedia article about the liquidators, there were ~600 000 people "cleaning up" the area including shooting animals, removing soil, etc. - Thanks to those people, all long-term issues with Chernobyl have been rather local. Due to the high number of people involved, this is a big part of the story to be told, and it shows the audience one of the negative consequences (young men killing animals which is traumatizing them for their life) even for people not directly involved in the nuclear catastrophe in the first place.

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    I see reports that over a million people were affected (probably a few million) but I don't see reports that over a million people died. Wikipedia, BBC, Washington Post, Times Union Jul 27, 2020 at 5:46
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    @Möoz Yeah, that’s an urban legend. With the liquidators, most evidence supports the idea that the Soviets got it right. That’s part of why they used so many liquidators; they did not allow them to stay long enough to get radiation poisoning. Jul 27, 2020 at 8:25
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    "young men killing animals which is traumatizing them for their life". Err... you know about those people called "hunters"? Actually pretty much anybody who wasn't living super-sheltered strictly urban life would hardly be traumatized by killing animals, especially knowing exact reason why it was necessary. At least in Russia of 198x - I'm not sure how it works in USA today. Also, I'm pretty sure many "young peoples" around the world killed an animal today and will do so tomorrow without any trauma. Jul 27, 2020 at 15:43
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    @OlegV.Volkov: It may be a case of cultural values regarding specific types of animals, as well. In the USA, the rate of veterinarians who commit suicide is 2-5 times higher than the national average. On the other hand, I have met people who work in slaughter houses who could not think of hurting a dog, but would have no problem killing and butchering a cow. Whereas in India, lynch mobs have been known to form over cows being killed.
    – sharur
    Jul 27, 2020 at 18:06
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    @OlegV.Volkov Yes, they are (semi) professional hunters killing wild animals for sport. Killing a dog that just had puppies or a cat that comes to you asking for food and cuddles is completely different experience. Is it necessary? Yes, but definitely also traumatizing for the draftees (who might have never killed anything)
    – Yasskier
    Jul 27, 2020 at 23:24

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