On Wednesday, British investigative journalist and filmmaker John Sweeny premiered his film The Eastern Front in Kyiv’s Cinema House. Wearing a traditional embroidered vyshyvanka tunic, he explained how the film was made to counter Kremlin propaganda spreading in the West though “Putin’s useful idiots.”

The documentary chronicling Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians was shown less than two days after the Kakhovka dam was destroyed by Russia in another blatant war crime.

A host of Ukrainian and international leaders and activists attended the event. Many of the audience members were visibly moved by the often disturbing scenes and accounts.  

“For Ukrainians, this is nothing new,” Sweeney said. “It’s for those outside who don’t know or don’t want to know what’s happening – like Tucker Carlson.”

Advertisement

The film – produced by Byline TV and directed by the filmmaker Caolan Robertson – showed footage of phosphorus rocket attacks on private homes and missiles designed to sink naval ships used against apartment buildings in the Donbas region – all obviously non-military targets.

Speeding over roads near Bakhmut, Sweeney, Russian-born pro-Ukrainian journalist Zarina Zabrisky, and veteran war photographer Paul Conroy race to speak with residents for hasty interviews amid shelling. The film crew has to navigate around landmines, marked and unmarked. Meanwhile, Russian Su-25 ground attack aircraft fly overhead, bound for unknown targets.

Ukraine’s Mobilisation Campaign Picks Up Despite Faltering Enthusiasm
Other Topics of Interest

Ukraine’s Mobilisation Campaign Picks Up Despite Faltering Enthusiasm

The Ukrainian military told Reuters in a written statement that the conscription rate had more than doubled in May and June compared to the previous two months, without providing the figures.

Victims of torture at the hands of the Russian invaders shed tears while revisiting the site of their captivity in now-liberated locations.

A clip of a birthday party shows a young girl blowing out candles in an apartment kitchen with her dad. Two days later, a video shows the apartment destroyed. The girl survived. Her father was killed.

“If hell does exist, it was here in Kherson,” says one resident, touring his destroyed home.

Advertisement

Sweeney is a veteran writer and former BBC journalist who recently wrote Killer in the Kremlin to expose the facts of Putin’s bloody reign.

“For decades, Vladimir Putin has been waging a hybrid war against the West. Using the Russian state apparatus, the Kremlin has used disinformation to cover up its crimes and keep the Russian people in the dark,” the film’s website says.

“In its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s disinformation factory has gone into overdrive to deny and lie about war crimes it is committing against peaceful civilians, including torture, illegal weaponry and targeting civilians for shelling. In this groundbreaking, tense and often moving documentary, Sweeney exposes definitive proof of the crimes committed every day in Ukraine and Russia’s attempts to hide them.”

At the post-screening Q&A session, Sweeney compared his father’s 1940 experience in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. “My father was fighting German-speaking Nazis, and now I feel like I’m fighting – with words – Nazis from Russia,” he said.

Kyiv Post’s Chief Editor Bohdan Nahaylo gave credit to the filmmaker’s work for revealing the truth about Russia targeting Ukraine’s civilian populace, saying it was on par with investigative work done in the 20th century by George Orwell and Malcomb Muggeridge to expose Stalin’s murder of millions of Ukrainian victims of the deliberate famine of Holodomor.

Advertisement

Finally, Sweeney invited Paul Niland, founder of the mental health and suicide prevention organization Lifeline Ukraine, to speak about his group’s efforts to help Ukraine since the initial invasion by Russia in March 2014. Niland highlighted how soldiers and ordinary civilians in the war-torn country all suffer and can benefit from seeking help. Since the full-scale invasion began, calls and messages asking for assistance have shot up 600 percent.

Sweeney asked that any donations the audience would like to offer should go directly to Lifeline Ukraine.

The Eastern Front will also have premieres in London and Los Angeles on June 14.

The filmmaker’s hope is that it will open the eyes of those in the West who have been “both sides-ing” the characterization of Russia’s war and show that the Kremlin’s version is not the truth.

Sweeney concluded the Q&A before drinks with his now hallmark motto in unison with the audience: “Vladimir Putin, do f**k off.”

Advertisement
To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter