There WAS a black soldier in Chernobyl, and he is Russian (PHOTOS)
Criticism of HBO’s Chernobyl for not casting ‘people of color’ may have caused fallout on social media, but it turns out at least one of the Russian liquidators of the 1986 nuclear disaster was in fact black.
British screenwriter Karla Marie Sweet unleashed a flame war over the weekend, objecting to the HBO miniseries not casting more “people of color.” One of the main arguments of those who pushed back was that Soviet Ukraine circa 1986 did not look much like modern-day Britain.
That is still technically true, but the curious case of Igor Anatolyevich Khiryak is the exception that proves the rule.
Khiryak is a resident of Cherepovets, a city in Vologda region, some 500 kilometers north of Moscow. In 1985, he was called up for military service, and took part in the evacuation of civilians from the area affected by the events in Chernobyl.
Ukrainian web portal TheBabel tracked down Khiryak on the Russian social network VKontakte, where he posted photos of his military service.
Khiryak was part of Unit 75110 of the 210 engineering brigade, which laid down pontoon bridges on May 2, 1986 to enable the evacuation of civilians from Pripyat, the city that was ordered evacuated after the meltdown at Chernobyl nuclear power plant. He still has a medal and a thank-you letter for “exemplary duty to the Motherland.”
Today, he seems to be living a happy life in the countryside, going hunting and fishing with his son and taking part in historical re-enactments.
He actually has an acting credit in a 2014 independent film, and is a member of the improv comedy troupe ‘Amsterdam,’ according to his social media posts.
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