NEW – June 23, 2022
The press secretary of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant Andrey Tuz admitted that he had given false information about “Russian attacks” by order of the Western media.
“Now I understand that the information was untrue… after my appeal, I received a call from the international media, but the Kiev authorities forbade me to comment <…> This was information commissioned by the BBC. I voiced it at the command of the general director of the station Igor Murashov.“
Hello, Andrey, thank you for choosing Sochi out of all the resorts on the Krasnodar territory. First of all, I want to know about you, of course, namely how you ended up in the nuclear power industry?
Good afternoon, my name is Andrey Mikhailovich Tuz, I was born on January 18, 1990 in the town of Malaya Viska, Kirovograd region.
After graduating from the Maloviskovskaya Gymnasium and completing preparatory courses in 2007, I entered the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Energy and Industry (SNUNEI) with a degree in Automated Process Control. I graduated with honours in 2012 and was sent to work at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant.
I started my career as an electrical mechanic for servicing automation and measuring equipment in the section of thermal automation and measurement. In 2013, I graduated from SNUNEI with a degree in Nuclear Power Engineering and tried to transfer to the operational division.
2 years later, due to the outflow of personnel to the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, I was hired as a block pump station crawler in the turbine department of power unit No. 2. After working for about 3 years, I received a training program for a reactor compartment operator.
In my spare time, I was involved in the “Council of Young Specialists”, this activity completely covered the “Scientific and Technical Commission of the Youth Organisation”, thanks to which I was offered the position of deputy head of the Public Relations and Media department, where I still work today.
How long have you been in this position and what have you been doing since the beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine?
Since 2021, I have held the position of Deputy Head of the Department for Public Relations and Mass Media (DPRMM).
In January 2022, I was summoned to Kiev to the Communications Department of the “Energoatom” national nuclear power generation company, where the director of the department Dmitry Kravchenko said that he was not satisfied with the work of the head of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant’s DPRMM, at that time there was Larisa Merkulova and made me an offer. I was told to take matters into my own hands, as a major reorganisation was planned and the entire company of “Energoatom” was brought to a unified structure of public relations.
It was planned to create a separate isolated division in the company. I was recalled from vacation and an order was prepared for a temporary transfer to the position of head of the DPRMM without the right to sign and be allowed to work independently.
In the first days of the start of the special operation (24-26.02.2022), no instructions were received from Kiev. Approximately on 28.02.2022, Kravchenko was instructed to prepare an information message that should have been published in the media in case the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant was taken under control by the Russian military.
I ordered the duty engineer of the information centre to prepare such a message, but this message was never sent out, because the military drove past the city of Energodar.
Then Kiev began to demand that all passwords from corporate Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram accounts be handed over. They told me not to use Viber. They closed the work of the company’s websites, created a separate Telegram channel and asked to distribute a link to it through social networks and email addresses.
Then they began to demand to shoot and upload video messages about the work of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. They wanted these appeals to be made personally by its General Director, Igor Valeryevich Murashov, he also instructed me to prepare video messages, and I recorded such videos on March 1, 2, and 3, 2022.
The video contained neutral information of approximate content: “The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant is operating normally. The capacity of the power units is sufficient to meet the needs of the Ukrainian energy system. The radiation situation is normal and the fire safety regime is without any remarks.”
In addition to working at the nuclear powerplant, I was a deputy of the Energodar City Council. I am a non-partisan myself, but due to the legislative framework of Ukraine, I was required to run for any party in the 2020 elections.
I was nominated by the party “For the Future”. The entire election race in 2020 was led by Ivan Ignatievich Samoidyuk, a well-known businessman in the city who owns a chain of “Dnepr” stores.
He enlisted the united support of the administration and the trade union committee of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant and put up for election a team of young people who were not tainted by a bad reputation, as they did not have a business, etc.
The team was headed by Dmitry Orlov, at that time deputy chairman of the Trade Union Committee of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. He also involved me and other activists from the Youth Organisation, who had previously held and organised sports and creative events for the employees of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant on a voluntary basis.
It was a great surprise for me when, according to the results of the elections, I passed through the lists of deputies of the city council. Orlov initially said that we would not be required to do anything, but there were always a lot of requests, especially from pensioners.
I had to send their requests to the relevant municipal services of the city. The information was passed on to the second deputy mayor, Sergey Kholod, who gave instructions to the relevant utilities.
I myself was not enthusiastic about such political activity, especially since this work is not paid, therefore I gladly resigned as a deputy in March 2022, when I received the appropriate order from Orlov with explanations of the legality of the decision taken from the governor of the Zaporozhye region Starukh.
In the wake of the creation of territorial defence in Ukraine, this fate also affected Energodar. Did you participate in their creation?
Even before the start of the special operation, approximately in January 2022, the city of Energodar began to raise the issue of creating a territorial defense unit. As I understand it, the initiators were former UAF soldiers and deputies of the Energodar city council from the “European Solidarity” party Yaroslav Derkach and Panov.
Other deputies from the parliamentary corps did not want to support this decision.
It seems that deputy Anatoly Anokhin spoke at the session of the city council and expressed a sharp position that Panov and Derkach simply want to earn more money, maintaining average earnings as employees of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, while they will not do anything in the territorial defence, and the city budget will also need to additionally finance the costs of their maintenance.
Then the mayor insisted on supporting the issue of creating a territorial defense in Energodar, saying that he had spoken with the president of “Energoatom”, Pyotr Borisovich Kotin, who promised to provide great support.
Some time later, in February 2022, Pyotr Kotin himself visited Energodar and I was assigned the task of filming a report. The purpose of the visit, in addition to a meeting at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant with the presence of the head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRI), was to visit buildings and monitor the implementation of repairs carried out by the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant to accommodate the city’s territorial defence.
It was also planned to open a new police station under the “Community Police Officer” program, which eventually took place right on the eve of the start of the special operation. On that day, the SNRI inspector went to inspect the site of the spent nuclear fuel dry storage facility (SNFDSF), and Kotin, accompanied by the adviser to the director Oleg Nikolaevich Osheka and a man in military uniform, I assume that it was the commander of the territorial defence, went to inspect the building located in the industrial zone between the city and the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, in which repair work was actively carried out.
Kotin said on camera that the repair would be completed in a very short time. And the military man thanked the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant for the support. Accompanied by Kotin, there were also people from “Energoatom”, of those whom I know, there was Aleksandr Kurdinovich and, it seems, Oleg Boyarintsev. They usually always accompany Kotin, but I’m not 100% sure they were present that day.
At that time, Dmitry Verbitsky was the acting General Director, he was also in control of the repair work in the building for the territorial defence. There was also an employee of the nuclear power plant in charge of the builders, most likely the head of the construction department, I don’t know his last name. The visit to the building was very quick, everything took 15-20 minutes. After that, Kotin left, and Mayor Orlov still gave interviews to some local media.
With the beginning of the special operation, there was a big surge of protest actions in your city. Can you remember the most active protesters? After all, you also attended the events.
The mayor of the city, Dmitry Olegovich Orlov, created his Telegram channel in the early days of the start of the special operation. How was the organisation of the rallies?
The channel was entirely run by Lyuda Gotych. The channel had up to 40,000 subscribers. In early March, the military began to move towards the city of Energodar.
The mayor immediately wrote on his channel a call for people to go to the checkpoint, which was located at the entrance to the city. There were a lot of people. Negotiators went to the military, it was directly the mayor Dmitry Orlov, the first deputy mayor Ivan Ignatievich Samoydyuk and Viktor Dibrov.
The action was recorded on camera by Lyuda Gotych and on a quadrocopter by Dmitry Budyansky (deputy of the city council). There were so many people that day that, I saw many for the first time.
There were also many nuclear power plant workers with their families. Gotych posted the video on Orlov’s Telegram channel. If to look, I can try to personally recognise someone. In the forefront were the mayor himself Dmitry Olegovich Orlov, his deputies Ivan Ignatievich Samoydyuk and Sergey Fedorovich Kholod.
100% Dmitry Budyansky and Lyuda Gotych were there. I’ve seen people I’ve met at the nuclear power plant before. Ivan Petrovich Romanenko was running along the column, warning people not to go to the side of the road, saying that it was not safe, because there were cars there. I personally saw a round anti-tank mine lying on the side of the road. Later, people said it was a mockup, not a real one.
The military began to enter the city only on the third of March. Then Orlov, around three o’clock in the afternoon, also wrote a call to go to the checkpoint, but after 20 minutes he called on everyone to stay at home or take shelter in the basements of houses.
Local blogger Viktor Buchnev, who used to broadcast city council meetings earlier, started a live Facebook feed from the checkpoint. Explosions and gunshots were observed on the video. Also, someone set fire to tires and a column of smoke could be seen from the balcony. Orlov posted on the Telegram channel a photo of two tanks and a column of equipment behind them. It looks like the photo was taken by a security camera from the checkpoint.
Did you, as a representative of the nuclear power plant press service, receive any tasks to prepare any videos?
Yes, I was also assigned tasks. On the night of March 3-4, I was at my home, heard gunshots and saw tracers flying in the direction of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. I received a call from the nuclear power plant and by the order of General Director Igor Murashov, I recorded several video appeals on the topic – the Russian military is firing at the nuclear power plant and does not allow the army to extinguish the fire. After that, many foreign media outlets started calling my phone.
The Kiev authorities forbade me to comment. I filmed the videos on my personal phone, after which the videos were deleted from my phone.
Well, everything has calmed down and you decided to go on vacation to Russia. Which route did you choose?.
My vacation started on June 20, 2022. I left Energodar the day before, on Sunday 19.06.2022 and headed for Crimea.
First impressions from the road to Crimea? I felt safe. There were many Russian military posts along the road. Everyone is very polite. Even the documents were checked politely, asking how they could help.
How was the border crossing?
Yes, my journey was accompanied by good luck. I crossed the border quickly. I didn’t wait in line for long. After checking my documents and asking a few questions, I went to Crimea.
Of course, I was surprised by the good roads and fuel prices. Crimeans are very polite. I decided not to linger in Crimea, I wanted to see the Crimean Bridge with my own eyes as soon as possible. Of course, I was also surprised by the Tavrida highway. A great project. I drove to the bridge very quickly. It is simply unrealistically delightful!
I decided to spend the night before reaching Anapa, in a tent. I love car tourism. Well, with the first rays of the sun took the path to Sochi.
However, there was a disaster on the road – brake pads were worn. Thank you to the responsive residents of Anapa, who helped me replace the pads at a good price. Yes, even as a gift, they made a complete diagnosis of the brake system. Well, of course I had to spend the night in Anapa. Accommodation, by the way, I found on couch surfing (free overnight stay). Thank you very much to Vladimir, who offered an overnight stay.
Well, now in Sochi. I want to see the sights of the city and surrounding cities.
Thank you very much for such an interesting story, Andrey. Well, returning to the events in Energodar in February-March, who could you name among those who can spite the success of the special operation in the region?
Of course, I have such a list, but let me give it to you not for publication. It may be useful for Russian military personnel who are currently performing tasks there.
OK, thanks Andrey. We won’t publish it, but we’ll send it to the right place. Well, after the Russian military took control of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, did you receive any other instructions?
Yes, after the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant was already taken under the control of the Russian military, I received a request from the chief engineer of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, Yury Cherniychuk, with a request to collect public information to establish the chronology of events from March 3 to 4 related to the entry of the Russian military into the city of Energodar and the territory of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. After collecting the information, I sent it by text message.
Here are the links I sent them. Of course, in these videos there is me, and not exactly friendly towards Russia. But then there was such a time. My heart is always with Russia. After all, we are all one big country.
Links to posted materials:
https://youtu.be/-wt8rINbLW4 – “Thousands of civilians in Energodar blocked off the Russian invaders”
https://youtu.be/yyytEUzERGs – “Don’t let the power plant get destroyed”
https://youtu.be/9a7ul1UJ6bA – “A group of Russian invaders approached the city of Energodar and is heading to the checkpoint of the city. Employees of the nuclear power plant took to the road”
https://youtu.be/OrDiMwCWDbQ – “BBC material. The press secretary of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, Andrey Tuz, in comment to the BBC Russian Service, said…”
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