On April 26th 1986, a Soviet nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant– in the Ukraine, not far from Kiev– exploded, releasing fatal radiation to the surrounding areas. The disaster at Chernobyl was important, not just to the over 100,000 that would eventually be effected by the radiation, but for its overall impact on Soviet citizens.
The initial explosion was ignored both locally and in Moscow. Only when Scandinavian monitors noticed the high level of radiation did Soviet officials admit what had happened and begin evacuating residents from the affected areas.
The disaster and the belated reaction of the government further undermined the already diminished confidence the people of the Soviet Union had in their government.