Stabbed in the Heart: The Suspicious “Suicide” of the Head of Nuclear Safety of the Zaporozhye Power Plant

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On February 1st, the head of the Department of Nuclear Safety of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant Sergey Klimov died in Energodar in the Zaporozhye region. The doctors who arrived at around 19:25 on a call verified the death of the 62-year-old man in his own apartment on Kurchatov Street.

The cause of Klimov’s death was a knife wound near his heart, which he, according to the initial narrative, inserted with his own hands. I.e., the nuclear scientist committed suicide.

The National Police of the Zaporozhye region, which qualified the incident according to Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“premeditated murder”) with signs of “suicide”, is engaged in an investigation into the circumstances of his death. Taking into account the position that Klimov had, which he held for the last 20 years, the story of his death became a subject of extensive discussion.

“Strana” understood the details of the tragedy in Energodar, which was the cause of a discussion about whether or not everything is as it should be with nuclear safety in Ukraine.

Stabbed his heart in front of his wife

At the official level a week after Sergey Klimov’s death law enforcement bodies are reluctant to share the details fo the investigation.

“On February 1st, at around 19:25 in the apartment of a house on Kurchatov Street in the city of Energodar, a man born in 1956 committed suicide. He inflicted upon himself a knife wound to the body,” reported the press service of the regional National Police.

The head of the communications department of the main office of the National Police of the Zaporozhye region Ekaterina Lyudvig noted that as of this moment the pre-judicial investigation continues according to the initial legal qualification of the incident. And all dots should be put above the i’s by the examination.

“We expect its results, they should clear up the circumstances of the incident. It is assumed that this will take about a month,” she told “Strana”.

Our publication’s interlocutor in the region’s prosecutor’s office was more garrulous. According to his information, the events of last Friday that took place in the apartment of the head of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant’s Department of Nuclear Safety were revealed by the testimony of his wife.

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Allegedly Klimov was at home together with his wife. The couple were preparing a meal when the head of the family suddenly grabbed a knife from the table and stabbed himself. One of them hit his heart and became fatal.

“This is the version of events about suicide according to his wife, the reliability of which is now being verified,” said our source in the prosecutor’s office.

The silence of the nuclear power plant, and the priest at the funeral

After obtaining the data of the examination and the survey of the environment of the deceased, law enforcement officers hope to receive an understanding of what pushed Klimov to suicide – turbidity of mind, a sudden quarrel in the family, or reasons of another, first of all, working sense.

The staff of the nuclear power plant haven’t commented on the incident with their employee. The head of the press service of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant Sergey Shichev readdressed the questions of journalists to the police. “Dancing on the bones of a tragically lost person seems unethical to us,” he said on the air of the NTN TV channel.

Journalists of “Gromadske TV Zaporozhye” also weren’t able to learn more. Sources of this publication at the nuclear power plant only reported that the personnel of the station are shocked by Klimov’s death. At the same time, the colleagues of Sergey Klimov don’t know why the nuclear scientist would take his own life.

On February 3rd Klimov was laid to rest. The man left behind a young wife, daughter, and, according to some information, an adult son. Two years ago Klimov was awarded by the title “Honourable Worker of Nuclear Power”.

The presence of a priest at his funeral who read the burial service for the dead (which is forbidden by the church Canon in cases of suicide), caused a lot of discussion on the Internet. This strengthened the supporters of the alternative reason for Klimov’s death, who assume that everything with the death of the chief of the Department of Nuclear Safety isn’t so clean. And he could have even been killed, and everything was subsequently presented as a suicide.

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Is Klimov’s death connected to his professional activity?

During the preparation of this material, “Strana” didn’t manage to find factual confirmation of such interpretations. At the same time, a number of Russian media outlets and users of social networks with so-called “anti-Maidan rhetoric” paid considerable attention to the incident in Energodar.

They put forward a number of conspiracy possibilities (from bringing him to suicide up to a demonstrative execution), and connect Klimov’s death with his work at the largest energy object of Europe – the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Allegedly, Klimov was perfectly aware about the critical state of affairs at the station and understood that he can be used as a scapegoat should there be a accident.

It should be noted that concerning the work of the nuclear power plant in Energodar, in recent years a lot of inconsistent information of an informal character came to the surface.

The fact is that this station, together with other Ukrainian nuclear power plants, began to gradually refuse to use Russian fuel, replacing it with the American analog from the producer “Westinghouse”. Since 2016, the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant switched to using a mixed loading of fuel blocks, having declared a course on diversification.

According to certain commentators who criticise the arrival of Westinghouse, production from the US is incompatible with the Soviet reactors installed in the six power units of the nuclear power plant. This also leads to emergency situations in the work of the nuclear power plant in Energodar.

Supporters of Westinghouse are convinced of the contrary. According to them, the emergency situations that arise are nothing more than coincidence and an element of the operation of the most difficult mechanism of the nuclear power plant. Supporters of Westinghouse connect the activity of critics of American nuclear fuel with the commercial interests of the Russian corporation TVEL.

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On the other hand, at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant several emergency shutdowns of power units indeed took place. Most of these incidents at the station was explained as planned repair work.

The last of them were recorded a few days before Klimov’s death. As “Strana” wrote, on January 21st the second power unit of the station was switched-off from the network. On January 30th, another emergency situation took place – the unloading of power unit No. 6 because of a shutdown of the pump. The reasons for the latest incident remain unknown. Sergey Klimov died the day after.

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