The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked a seismic shift for not just Russia, but the world. Overnight, what had once been one of the world’s two largest federations of states ceased to exist and was replaced with 15 independent republics. Three decades later, the ghosts of the USSR continue to haunt many countries, none more so than Ukraine, where an ongoing war has seen Russian interference and a clampdown on critics who dare challenge the Kremlin.
Since 2014, Ukraine has been embroiled in conflict when it resisted Russia’s attempts to annex Crimea. This sparked off a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine which continues to this day. In response, Moscow has deployed its security forces to intimidate and silence dissidents who speak out against its policies. The situation is further worsened by reports that families and neighbours routinely denounce those suspected of speaking out against Russia for fear of reprisals from authorities.
Despite these oppressive tactics, a new documentary from award-winning filmmaker Janina Kostenko sheds light on these stories by interviewing those affected by Putin’s rule – activists, intellectuals and ordinary citizens alike – exploring how they are surviving despite it all. From Donetsk to Kyiv, each character speaks about their personal experiences living under the shadow of Putin’s regime and reflects on what it means for their country’s future democracy.
For anyone interested in understanding what is happening in Ukraine today, this film provides an important perspective into life under Putin’s rule and paints a vivid portrait of resilience within society despite its struggles. We invite you to watch this powerful documentary as it offers valuable insight into how people in post-Soviet countries are standing up against authoritarian regimes like never before.