|Year of Production|
DW Transtel | 2023
1 x 43 min
The town of Kupyansk was one of the first places in Ukraine to fall to Russian invaders. Six months later, it was recaptured by Ukraine. Left in the ruins of the town, residents are now grappling with questions of guilt and complicity.
No shots were fired when the Russian army occupied Kupyansk. The mayor of the town of 30,000 simply handed it over to the advancing Russian troops. However, not all citizens were happy with the collaboration. One brave local politician drummed up resistance and organized protests under the Ukrainian flag. Russia launched a violent crackdown on the rebellion. Anyone daring to speak out against the Russian troops’ presence risked being ‘disappeared’ in the occupiers’ torture chambers. Open resistance was swiftly quashed, driving the movement underground. Meanwhile, Russia began implementing its own plans for the town, which became an administrative center for the occupied territories around Kharkiv. The occupation authorities handed out Russian passports and turned Kupyansk into a showcase town for “Russkij Mir” which can be translated as “Russian world” or “Russian peace”.
Six months later, Ukraine recaptured Kupyansk. Russian troops stationed 10 kilometers from the center exacted revenge by launching almost daily artillery attacks on the town. Many residents fled. But for those who stayed, the question remains: how to carry on after the experiences of the occupation?
This film reconstructs the mechanisms of the occupation with those who lived through it: those who were at some point able to flee, and those who stayed. The documentary hears from residents who collaborated as well as those who resisted, whether openly or in secret. It illustrates a panorama of life under occupation and poses the big questions of guilt and complicity.