“Russian Agents of Freedom” awarded European Prize
The Croatian documentary film “Russian Agents of Freedom” (“Ruski Agenti Slobode”), supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, recently received the European Award of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND). The film focuses on the struggle of Russian dissidents in a country dominated by war propaganda.
Director Marko Stričević succeeded in bringing together some of the most prominent intellectuals, journalists, and artists who experience first-hand what it means to express dissent against “Putin's power vertical”. The film in its entirety was also made possible by anonymous contributors – citizens of Russia who could not be signed in the check-out credits due to fear for their safety. They also represent the mentioned, invisible on the surface, but present and significant layer of Russian society that does not reconcile with the crimes of the regime.
freiheit.org spoke with the Croatian director, who himself recently switched from Croatian public television HRT to the independent broadcaster Nova-TV.
Marko Stričević, your film was recently awarded the Croatian "European Award for Television Journalism”. What does that mean to you?
I am proud of the film and my collaborators. I am glad that he received the award, because it is a kind of confirmation for all of us in times when it seems to many that their work is not noticed. This award is a new incentive for Croatian journalists to deal with European issues, and the Association of Journalists hopes that it will become a good tradition. “Russian Agents of Freedom” was awarded in the category “Television Journalism”. The criteria for the award reflect a facet that is particularly important to me: my documentary is “a contribution to the promotion of the rule of law, freedom and democracy, and the enforcement of civil, political and social human rights.”
Why do you think you felt you had to make this film? Why was, or is, this film necessary?
The film is an attempt to show people who embody exceptional courage, critical thinking and democracy, all of which are also part of the Russian cultural heritage and libertarian spirit that I have admired, experienced, studied and loved in the past fifteen years - and immediately in the first days of the war it became clear to me that it might disappear forever. I want the viewers of my film to understand that a significant part of Russian society opposes this evil and that there are Russians who take great risks for their beliefs.
I have the feeling that many people do not know what this resistance to Putin sounds like; what it says, how it thinks. The protagonists of my film are “Europe”. With them, this continent has a chance for a better future, wherever they are and whatever is happening in Russia right now. Many of those who stayed in Russia after the war began decided to remain silent because the regime has no mercy. Free Europe must not forget these people and I hope that Europe will remain aware of their existence and not harass them additionally.
On the other hand, there are people within the EU who justify the actions of the regime in Moscow or relativize its crimes. At the same time, they consciously or unconsciously spread the Kremlin's propaganda. I wanted such viewers to also see a film that gives an authentic Russian perspective. It would be fatal if the criminal Russian regime with its propaganda apparatus had a monopoly on the “Russian perspective”.
How did the cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom come about?
Three protagonists of my documentary are members of the “Pussy Riot” collective. I met them during a performance in Zagreb. A few days earlier, they had performed on a tour in Germany organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and the video footage shot there was an exceptionally match for my documentary. I am grateful and honored that the Friedrich Naumann Foundation has recognized and acknowledged the value of our work.
Questions were asked by Edita Barać-Savić, Program Manager for Civil Society Cooperation in the Western Balkans region at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, based in Belgrade.