How was the nuclear accident at Chernobyl and the Soviet response typical of the USSR?
The secrecy surrounding the entire incident was probably the most characteristic of typical Soviet responses. Other parts of the disaster that made it more likely to happen in a system run by bureaucrats were that the staff was apparently not well trained, especially in the area of coping with emergencies. Under the Soviet system, the press was controlled by the government, which made finding out what was going on at Chernobyl difficult both within the Soviet Union, and in the rest of the world. Today, we are so used to almost instantaneous news coverage due to the internet that it is hard to believe how long it took to find things out in 1986, but my main memory of the whole incident is how long it took to find out details. The Soviet system was loath to disclose things that reflected badly on themselves, and without a free press it took quite some time for the truth to come out. In fact, it was only when excess radiation was found at a plant in Sweden the next day that could not be accounted for, was the disaster finally acknowledged.