Chernobyl cast: Who is Nikolai Fomin? Was Fomin a real person?

Chernobyl episode five airs tonight (Monday, June 3) on HBO and tomorrow (Tuesday, June 4) on Sky Atlantic. In the final episode of Chernobyl, viewers will see the 1987 Chernobyl trial play out, where the Soviet Government tried to find out who was responsible and what caused the nuclear accident. A lot of the episode will be focused on Nikolai Fomin (played by Adrian Rawlins), the chief engineer, Anatoly Dyatlov (Paul Ritter), the deputy chief engineer and supervisor in charge and plant director Viktor P. Bryukhanov (Con O’Neill).

WARNING: This article contains spoilers about Chernobyl

Who is Nikolai Fomin?

Nikolai Fomin was the chief engineer at Chernobyl during the nuclear disaster.

He arrived at the block four control room at 4:30am, three hours after the initial explosion.

Despite Fomin being told that the reactor had exploded, he ordered staff to continuously pump water not the reactor, which would entirely pointless.

When the men started to fall ill as a result of radiation poisoning, instead of evacuating the building, Fomin ordered more men to come in and pump water to replace those who were going to the hospital.

Fomin ordered his replacement Sitnikov (Jaime Sives) to climb on top of the roof of unit C to look down into the reactor.

Following orders, Sitnikov did so and received a fatal radiation dose.

He reported back to Fomin and Bryukhanov (the plant manager) that the reactor was indeed destroyed, but they both refused to believe him.


In July 1987, the Soviet Government opened an investigation and criminal trial into what happened on April 26, 1986.

Soviet officials argued that the nuclear accident was down to human error, not the design of the reactor.

Fomin had been arrested in August 1986 and spent almost a year in a Kiev prison awaiting his trial.

He attempted to take his own life shortly before the trial began but was saved.

Also, standing trial was Anatoly Dyatlov the deputy chief engineer and supervisor in charge alongside plant director Viktor P. Bryukhanov.

Three other plant supervisors were also placed on trial.


The New York Times reported at the time of the trial: “Mr Fomin, dressed like the others in jacket and open-necked shirt, occasionally took off his eyeglasses under the glare of television lights and mopped his brow with a handkerchief.”

In the end, Fomin, Bryukhanov and Dyatlov were sentenced to 10 years in a labour camp for violating safety regulations.

They accepted responsibility but denied accusations of criminal liability.

According to Newsweek, Fomin was released early after a nervous breakdown.

Speaking to Bradford Zone, Adrian Rawlins who plays Fomin said: “He [Fomin] gets put on trial. Somebody has to! He got 10 years hard labour. He tried to kill himself but survived and then alter for released on mental health grounds and got another job at a nuclear plant.”

Rawlins revealed that there were reports Fomin was not qualified and may have got his nuclear physics degree by correspondence, which was a common practice in the Soviet Union amongst people of high social standing.


Who plays Nikolai Fomin in Chernobyl?

Adrian Rawlins is best known for playing James Potter, Harry Potter’s father in the Harry Potter film series.

Rawlins has had a hugely successful stage and film career.

His most notable roles include Harbour in Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself and Arthur Kidd in the original film The Women in Black.

Rawlins also played Richard Collingsworth in the 1989 series The Ginger Tree, opposite Samantha Bond.

The star said: “Most of my scenes involved Con O’Neil who played Fomin’s boss Bryukhanov. Johan [Renck, the director] looked at us as a kind of double act, who occasionally provided flashes of humour stemming from the characters determination to avoid the truth of what was happening.”

Chernobyl airs tonight on HBO and Tuesday on Sky Atlantic

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