The Russian state should be tried for historic crimes committed by the Soviet Union, Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa has said ahead of the premiere of his new documentary, The kyiv Trial, in Venice.
Speaking at a press conference, Loznitza – who was expelled from Ukraine’s film academy for expressing his support for Russian filmmakers – said there was a need to repent of past wrongs.
“History repeats itself when we don’t learn from history, when we haven’t studied it and don’t want to know what happened to us,” he said.
“It is very difficult and people have to expend a lot of energy for it… When this Russian invasion of Ukraine happened, we all immediately realized that it was 80 years ago and we understood that we were starting to repeat the same things. This means that we did not learn after the war.
The Kyiv Trial, also known as the “Kyiv Nuremberg”, took place in January 1946 in the Soviet Union and was one of the first post-World War II trials to convict German Nazis and their collaborators. Fifteen defendants were tried “for the atrocities committed by the fascist invaders on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR”.
Using previously unseen archive footage, the documentary – which is being played out of competition in Venice – reconstructs the key moments of the proceedings, in particular the statements of the defendants and the testimonies of witnesses, including survivors of Auschwitz and Babyn yar.
Loznitza linked the invasion of Ukraine to the lack of repentance for historic Soviet crimes and said he hoped to one day make a film about the trials against representatives of the Soviet Union.
“At the end of this war, there must be a trial against all the war crimes that the Russian army and Russian politicians have committed in Ukraine,” he said. “But also a trial against the State of the Soviet Union for the crimes they committed starting in 1917 and ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That’s because that kind of trial doesn’t s It didn’t happen like the Nuremberg trial that we have this country in such circumstances as it is now. We are all surprised, but there is nothing surprising when people think that way. Without such a trial… nothing will happens and this struggle will reappear again and again.
He added: “We would be happy to make a movie about it. That’s what I want to do.
Loznitsa resigned from the European Film Academy in February in response to his statement expressing his “solidarity with Ukraine” – issued after the Russian invasion of the country. In an open letter, the director condemned the academy for failing “to call a war a war, to condemn barbarism and to express your protest”.
A few days later, the European Film Academy announced that it would exclude Russian films from its European Film Awards. But Loznitsa spoke out against this decision, saying that “many friends and colleagues, Russian filmmakers, have taken a stand against this senseless war… They are victims like us of this aggression”. He urged “not to judge people on the basis of their passports” but “on their deeds”.
It was then announced that Loznitsa had been expelled from the Ukrainian Film Academy for opposing the boycott of Russian films.