A one-off documentary, directed by Paul Mitchell, will explore the Russian public’s relationship with the war and their freedoms as citizens.
After Russia’s war censorship laws were introduced following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it became virtually impossible to speak up against the war in Russia. Journalists fled the country, media outlets closed, and individuals began to be arrested as they criticised the conflict.
Storyville, Inside Russia: Traitors and Heroes follows one small, independent YouTube channel battling against this censorship. Two journalists document stories from the perspectives of a selection of Russian citizens throughout the past year of war.
One narrative trails a local politician, Nina Belyaeva, after she condemns the war on social media and the government presses charges against her. She is forced to face the authorities in the courts or flee the country.
Another story examines an artist rebellion in Yekaterinburg, where a group of graffiti artists mock pro war propaganda via their street art. One of them is shortly arrested.
“I used to joke that we’d all become criminals or extremists. We’d be jailed for a drawing or a text. That kind of thing. But when it happened, I was terrified,” one graffiti artist explains.
Throughout the one-off film, the documentary makers question Russian civilians on their views on freedom of speech, Ukraine’s president Zelensky, and if they believe there can be peace between Ukraine and Russia.
The documentary is directed by award-winning director Paul Mitchell (Putin, Russia and the West) and Russian journalist Anastasia Popova (The Syrian Diary). The programme will air on Monday 20 February at 10pm on BBC Four, streaming on iPlayer.