Kim Traill - Multimedia Journalist
'On the Blood of Chechens' (Ingushetia Feb 2000/edited Dec 2019)
Lest we forget how Vladimir Putin cemented his power. By ordering the slaughter of the Chechen people, under the guise of "protecting Russia from terrorism". This film was put together to mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the Russian-Chechen war. It was mostly filmed in Karabulak refugee camp, Ingushetia, with Bentley Dean in January 2000. The Russian military had been carrying out "cleansings" in Chechnya, for four months already. Journalists were banned. An estimated 300,000 Chechens were killed in the two wars combined.
'Anna Politkovskaya Tribute' (Moscow)
'Fearless journalist Anna Politkovskaya knew full well she was risking her life by reporting on subjects the Russian government wished to keep secret. This interview was shot at her desk in the Moscow office of Novaya Gazeta, shortly after she had been poisoned on a flight to Beslan in September 2004 and recut in January 2018.'
'Survivor of Chechen deportations of 1944 - Ljoma Viskhanov' (Vienna)
'Ljoma Viskhanov was just 8 years old when Russian soldiers rounded up the entire Chechen population, packed them into freezing cattle wagons and sent them into exile in Central Asia and Siberia. Seventy four years later, the horror of that day - February 23rd, 1944 - and the ensuing nightmare, remains etched in his memory.'
‘Dissent is Deadly’ (Vienna/Moscow)
'Since Putin installed Ramzan Kadyrov as leader of the Chechen Republic, his rule has become increasingly harsh. Anyone who criticises the regime faces great danger, even beyond the borders of Chechnya and Russia. "Any person who talks about the situation in Chechnya, anyone who tells the truth, needs to fear for their lives", says Mansur Sadulaev, a former resistance fighter. He is addressing a Chechen protest in Vienna in response to the public humiliation of a couple on national television - after they dared to question Kadyrov's beneficence. Even in Europe, dissident Chechens are not safe from the creeping arm of the state, following threats made publicly by Kadyrov: "Their relatives in Chechnya must be told to control their relatives in Austria. If they don't do this, then we will make them." Mansur himself has been personally threatened, after a video of him criticising the regime went viral in his homeland. Mansur knows to take Kadyrov's threats seriously; in January 2009, former presidential bodyguard Umar Israilov was shot dead in broad daylight in the Vienna suburb of Floridsdorf. Israilov had recently lodged a lawsuit against his ex-boss at the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile, Kadyrov has also developed a reputation for his extravagance - boasting an extensive collection of luxury cars, racing horses and even a private zoo, his personal fortune continues to accumulate; as long as he retains Putin's favour and his hold on the Chechen Republic.
'Russia’s Gay Hate’ (Moscow and St Petersburg - October 2013)
'In Russia, homosexuality is being confused with paedophilia by thugs and politicians alike. An explosion of homophobic behaviour and anti-gay legislation is forcing the gay community into a life of secrecy.'
'Jesus of Siberia’ (Petrapavlovka, Siberia - June 2013)
'Is Jesus alive and well and living in Siberia? Yes, according to the thousands of European followers of Sergei Torop, a former Russian traffic cop and self-proclaimed second coming of Christ, 'Vissarion'. Deep in the mountains, Vissarion has built a community of 5000 followers from the former Soviet Union, Germany, Bulgaria and Belgium. "It's a mini-Soviet Union...the openness, trust, absence of selfishness.." says one commune member. "Society is non-harmonious", Vissarion explains. "It has to refashion itself radically."So far his somewhat unorthodox take on the Bible has attracted over 20,000 other followers worldwide. "It will be a new civilisation", insists Igor, a devout follower.'
‘Putin’s Media War - Media control in Russia’ (Moscow - September 2004)
'Putin's censorship of the media has led to the re-emergence of Soviet style propaganda in Russia. Journalists telling the truth are literally risking their lives. "I've written my will. I'm getting my children used to the idea that at any moment they might be left without me," states journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Her reports from Chechnya have constantly contradicted the official line, making her deeply unpopular with the Kremlin. "Since Vladimir Putin became President, propaganda and censorship have re-emerged," complains editor Oleg Panfilov. During the Beslan siege, Russian networks were banned from mentioning the hostage takers demands and ordered to claim they were international terrorists not Chechen rebels. In the wake of Beslan, even tighter controls are planned. The FSB are lobbying for a complete ban on reporting terrorist acts. "Then, if people are killed, there'd be no impact, no stress, no outcome favourable to the terrorists," explains Pavel Pozhigaylo, Deputy Head of the Information Policy Committee.'
'Putin’s Hidden War’ (Chechnya/Moscow - April/May 2004)
'For Chechen civilians, Russia's 'clean-up' operations amounts to little more than genocide. Even Russian soldiers condemn their actions in Chechnya. When Ivan volunteered to fight in the second Chechen war, he had scant understanding of what he would experience. Even now, he remains deeply troubled by his time there. Lack of supplies and widespread alcoholism fuelled acts of brutality. His ill equipped unit had little choice but to rob civilians. "We had to feed ourselves. Of course we turned to looting. Of course we'd kill," he says. He believes the Chechens are being forced into acts of terrorism out of desperation and revenge. "We'd come in the house and kill five people - one survives, they have nothing to live for and it becomes blood for blood." 60 year old Sowdat has seen two of her children killed by the Russians. Another two have disappeared without a trace. "It's genocide and it's conducted openly," states Ruslan Badalov, of the Chechen Salvation Committee. Despite Putin's assurance to the contrary, Chechens believe that a bloody war is being waged against them. Daily 'disappearances' in every village tell the same story. It seems that Russia's campaign to impose order is creating the terrorism they mean to crush.'
'Russian Racists’ (Moscow - February/March 2004)
'A disturbing insight into how the Chechen conflict has shaped Russian public opinion and resulted in an explosion of neo-Nazism in Russia. "We are Aryans and must kill all Niggers, Chinese, Jews and Wogs from the Caucasus," commands Tesak, a member of the People's National Party. This vicious kind of rhetoric is in line with the new 'Russist' ideology sweeping the nation. Many of Russia's new political parties are openly racist, with one politician even condoning the murder of non-ethnic Russians. "The government has been playing with the xenophobic attitudes of the population for such a long time that the situation has simply got out of control," says human rights worker Tatiana Lokshina. Migrants from the poorer southern republics now face an increasing number of violent attacks. Even migrants' children are targeted to encourage their parents to leave the country.'
‘Russian Reality TV: Golod – The Hunger House' (Berlin, December 2003)
‘Russian Roulette – Drugs and HIV’ (Moscow)
'It's 5am: rush hour for some of Moscow's junkies. "I've almost no veins left," says Roma, a former dancer and choreographer. Natasha was a classical violinist. She started using after a beating by police. The UN estimates 2 ½ million Russians use drugs intravenously, and as a result, the AIDS rate has doubled in the past year. The authorities are doing little to help or warn addicts of the dangers. Moscow's Mayor refuses even to allow outreach workers to distribute clean needles. But drug addiction doesn't just affect the poor. Simon lies in one of the city's few rehab clinics. His successful factories support his 5g a day heroin habit. "I'd shoot up and go to the casino..." Marcia was training to be an Olympic gymnast. "Imagine there was 1g of cocaine for each person. Imagine the state you were in the next morning. What can get you out of that state? Only heroin". Natasha says needle sharing is rife, even if you know the user is infected with Hepatitis. Most of her friends already have AIDS. The entire federal budget for AIDS is less than US$6 million. It's left to charities and the church to fill the gap. Father Anatoly Berestov blames Russia's epidemic of addiction on the moral void left by the collapse of the Soviet Union. He's fighting it with spirituality, not helped, he says, by corrupt police who extort bribes from addicts. If Russia doesn't wake up to its drugs/AIDS problem soon, rates of infection could reach those of Africa.'
‘Keepers of the Lost Art’ (Uzbekistan - September 2001)
'On the dusty steppes of remote north- west Uzbekistan is one of the most extraordinary museums in the world. It is located in the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan, from where foreigners and most Russians were barred until the late 1980s. This made the capital, Nukus, the perfect place for curator Igor Savitsky to 'hide' tens of thousands of works of art banned by Stalin's regime.'
‘Russia’s Afghan War’ (A post 9/11 examination of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan - Moscow - September 2001)
‘Russia’s Drinking Problem’ (Moscow)
‘Belarus: Europe’s Last Dictator' (Minsk, Belarus)
‘The War Without End’ (Pakistan/Northern Afghanistan – March-May 2001)
‘Russia and the IMF’ (Prague/Moscow)
‘Russia’s Deadly Secret’ (Muslyumovo, Chelyabinsk, Murmansk)
'In Russia, the toll of a terrible nuclear accident is only just emerging after years of official denial and cover-up. The truth of what occurred at the Mayak nuclear weapons plant, at the foot of the Ural Mountains, is by any measure appalling. With radioactive pollution far in excess of Chernobyl, the countryside around Mayak, including the village of Muslyumovo, has been poisoned. And the people who've been forced to stay there as guinea pigs for the Russian government are dying. But for a long time, they didn't know it. The accident and its staggering after-effects were kept hidden from the villagers - and from the rest of the world - until it was too late.'
'Perestroika’s Prostitutes’ (Kazan, Russia - June/July 2000)
'A Revolution in Crisis’ (Cuba - May 2000)
'47 years after the revolutionaries ransacked casinos, closed brothels, and confiscated American property, Cuba has re-opened the symbols of capitalism it destroyed. Cuba has long prided itself on a unique revolution. Here, all races were to be equal, resources shared and happiness measured by other standards than material wealth. To many Latin Americans Castro is indeed a legendary figure, the only one of their leaders to stand up to the United States. But, under its colourful and defiant surface, Cuba is in crisis. Havana is crumbling, most cars are left over from the 1950s and shop shelves are gaping bare. The average wage has fallen to $9 a month and the socialist safety net is in threads. Without dollars many Cubans go hungry and heavy jail terms are handed out to those who publicly criticise the state. "People shut up and suffer", one man says, as he shows us the rags that serve as mattresses in the room where he lives with his wife and children. As a last resort, the Cuban government is investing in tourism. After decades of anti-American propaganda, five star hotels are being built all over the island. Prostitution and "capitalist decadence" have returned. This film captures the charming but desperate nature of Cuba today.'
‘Blood and Belonging’ (Ingushetia/Moscow - February 2000)
'In a refugee camp in Ingushetia a Chechen boy aged 13 is holding a kalashnikov. The children learning how to fire guns may soon grow up to use them against the Russians. In camps such as this one, new stories of atrocities are being passed on to a generation that has known nothing but war. They are the true victims in a conflict which has driven hundreds of thousands of Chechens into exile. Chechnya won de facto independence from Russia in 1996 after a war that claimed over 80 000 lives. But the warlords refused to serve a central government and the republic soon descended into lawless chaos. A year ago, following a series of apartment bombings in Moscow, Russia invaded Chechnya in what it called a campaign against terrorism. "They came with their planes, murdering people. So we all fled… Even Stalin never did anything like this", says an old man of the most recent tragedy to plague his people. Russia denies targeting civilians. But it won't allow foreign journalists into Chechnya unless they are escorted by the military. Russia has now claimed victory over the rebels. Still the violence continues. This is a gripping and exclusive account of a war which remains an embarrassment to both President Putin and the outside world.'
'On the blood of Chechens'
Ingushetia - 2000/edited 2019
Moscow - 2004/Vienna 2018
Vienna - 2018
'Dissent is Deadly'
Vienna/Moscow - 2016
'Russia's Gay Hate'
Moscow - October 2013
'Jesus of Siberia'
Petropavlovsk - June 2013
'Putin’s Media War'
Moscow - September 2004
'Putin's Hidden War'
Chechnya/Moscow - April/May 2004
'Russian Racists - The rise of Neo-Nazism in Russia'
Moscow - February/March 2004
'Russian Reality TV – The Hunger House'
Berlin - December 2003
'Russian Roulette - Drugs and the HIV epidemic'
Moscow - July 2002
'Russia's Afghan War'
Moscow - September 2001
'Russia's Drinking Problem'
Moscow - July 2001
'Afghanistan - War Without End'
Pakistan/Afghanistan - March/April 2001
'Russia and the IMF'
Moscow/Prague - September 2000
'Russia's Deadly Secret - Nuclear Disaster Cover-Ups'
Muslyumovo/Chelyabinsk/Murmansk - 2000
Kazan, Russia - June 2000
'Cuba - A Revolution in Crisis'
Havana, Cuba - May 2000
'Blood and Belonging'
Chechnya/Ingushetia/Moscow - February 2000