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Film “Russia 88” to hit hard about skinheads

29.12.2009    source:
"Bardin has succeeded in doing what many civic activists were unable to do – he has shown the movement to be comical. That is the worst blow to the movement” (Galina Kozhevnikova)

Ukrainian human rights activists plan to show young Ukrainians the film by Russian Director Pavel Bardin “Russia 88”.  This pseudo-documentary film drama demonstrates the frightening dimensions that xenophobia and youth rightwing radicalism can take.  Tetyana Mazur, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ukraine believes that the film about Russian skinheads should be shown in Ukraine also since most viewers have no idea how widespread the problem of racism is in their own country.

Galina Kozhevnikova, Deputy Director of the Sova Centre and well-known researcher into nationalism and xenophobia among Russian youth, welcomes such awareness-raising plans from her Ukrainian colleagues. “It’s incredibly important to show this film which is perhaps the first to confront the issue in adequate artistic language. Bardin has succeeded in doing what many civic activists were unable to do – he has shown the movement to be comical. That is the worst blow to the movement”.

The film shows how a group of skinheads “Russia 88” film propaganda clips to post on the Internet. The camera is, at the same time, recording the life of the neo-Nazis – they supposedly get used to the cameraman and stop paying attention to him. The film’s authors says that although the story is made up, it is based on the real situation in contemporary Russia.

The film uses the music which neo-Nazis listen to, and the clothes were bought in real Moscow shops. The characters use phrases from actual correspondence between two neo-Nazis which was accessed by a hacker group of anti-fascists. The film’s name uses numeric symbols which the neo-Nazis themselves use, with the digit corresponding to the eighth letter of the alphabet (Latin) and being therefore a kind of abbreviation of “Heil Hitler”.

The film was initially shot without any outside funding, however later a group of producers headed by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Rodnyansky got involved. The premiere took place in Berlin.  In Kyiv, where the film was demonstrated at the Youth Film Festival, the Director Pavel Bardin and actor Pyotr Fyodorov, who plays the main skinhead, actually took part in an anti-racism event.

Galina Kozhevnikova explains that the film has received a lot of publicity in Russia, however there are constant problems with showing it. “The film has a licence, however cinemas don’t take it. There’s an age restriction since the film uses non-standard language, and in that way it’s separated off from the target audience which is in fact people younger than 18”.

Tetyana Mazur stresses that it is specifically young people who have not known the horrors of the Second World War and are often quite cynical and arrogant who should see it. “These days when you walk around Kyiv and see Nazis symbols on the walks of various buildings, you can often not understand the significance of these symbols. In “Russia 88” they show other manifestations, there not simply symbols, some kind of harmless expression of something merely symbolic, but more active behaviour by the gangs. It’s worth showing the link between them and that this phenomenon is very serious and dangerous, not only for certain small groups, but for society as a whole.”

While in Ukraine, there are plans to show the film in educational institutions and during human rights education events, in Russia itself it’s reported that people are refusing to show the film on the grounds of viewers’ safety.

From a report by Olha Vesnyanka at,,5065755,00.html

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