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Russian filmmakers protest against raid on colleague

10 December 2012 


Source: HRO.org (info)
Russian documentary and feature-film directors have spoken out in defence of their colleague Pavel Kostomarov, whose apartment was searched as part of the ongoing Bolotnaya Square investigation. In an open letter published by Gazeta.Ru, representatives of the KinoSoyuz union of filmmakers and the Guild of Documentary Film and Television condemned the actions of law enforcement officials.

“It is perfectly clear that such acts of force are carried out not for the sake of uncovering the truth, but with the aim of intimidating the participants in and witnesses of the Bolotnaya Square protests of 6 May, 2012,” the letter states. “And it goes without saying that this is, first and foremost, an explicit signal to the community of documentary filmmakers.”

The filmmakers demanded that the Investigative Committee issue a public apology and return all footage seized from Kostomarov’s flat.

The role of a documentary filmmaker is to “create a film chronicle of the times in which he lives, independent of the personalities and views of the individuals who happen to occupy the seats of power in the Kremlin at any particular moment,” the letter stated.

Support for Kostomarov and condemnation of the raid were expressed by prominent filmmakers, including Andrey Proshkin, Vitaly Mansky, Aleksei Popogrebsky and others.

Kostomarov was summoned to the Investigative Committee on Monday to appear as a witness in the Bolotnaya Square investigation, Grani.ru reported.

During the search, which began at 7:00 in the morning, authorities seized materials of his documentary project, “The Term” (“Srok”). Kostomarov’s co-director on the project, television journalist Aleksei Pivovarov, said the filmmakers were willing to cooperate with the investigation.

Following a televised interview, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a private conversation with Pivovarov, during which he described the investigators who carried out the search of Kostomarov’s flat as “jerks” [kozly].

“It’ll be alright, don’t worry,” Medvedev said. “They’re jerks for coming like that at eight in the morning. In reality, it’s just part of their normal routine.”

Medvedev’s spokesperson, Natalya Timakova, declined to comment, noting that it was “eavesdropping.”

Commenting on the Bolotnaya Square investigation during the live interview, Medvedev said it was imperative that people have respect for law enforcement officials.

At the same time, he said, investigators must respect the “rules of society” and develop their sense of legal culture.

“Why they had to come at eight in the morning, I don’t know,” the prime minister said, in response to a question from Pivovarov. “It seems to me they could have requested the video footage in a normal fashion.”

“During the 90s, things were even tougher: in order to seize any kind of footage, the authorities made everyone lie face-down on the floor,” Medvedev added, noting that Kostomarov had no charges pending against him.

“The Term” is a documentary film directed by Pivovarov, Kostomarov and Aleksandr Rastorguev that profiles the leaders of the Russian protest movement.

Fragments of the future film have appeared since 21 May on the project’s blog and on YouTube. Already about 300 episodes have been broadcast in this way. Swiss documentary filmmaker Antoine Cattin is also taking part in the project.

Cattin and Pivovarov jointly presented their ongoing project at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July of this year.

The filmmakers claim their work is not meant to be a chronicle of the protests, but rather iw aimed to portray the views and experiences of the opposition leaders in order to understand “the direction in which society is being led by individuals who are prepared to serve prison terms for their beliefs.”

In early July, investigators seized a video clip detailing the events on Bolotnaya Square, which had been released by Grani.ru on 7 May.

The footage was used as incriminating proof against several defendants in the trial, including Maksim Luzyanin, Andrei Barabanov and Mikhail Kosenko.

In May, a group of filmmakers put out an open letter in support of the documentary filmmaker Vasily Bogatov, who had been detained during the dispersal of a pro-Pussy Riot protest camp near the Moscow City Court.

Bogatov, who was filming the dispersal of the camp on camera, was sentenced to 7 days in prison.

The letter protesting Bogatov’s sentence was signed by directors Aleksandr Kott, Pavel Bardin, Evgeny Mitta and Vladimir Mirzoev, film historian Naum Kleiman, actor Dmitri Pevtsov, and others.
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