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PPV #28: Decolonising Russia's War on Ukraine 💙💛

Saturday 26 March


Decolonising Russia's War on Ukraine: Thinking and Filmmaking on Invasion as a Structure



Reference Point

180 The Strand

Tickets: £5 (minimum donation); £10 (suggested donation)

All ticket proceeds and bar proceeds to be donated to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s war*

Please click here for registration and ticket sales

Please click here for the streaming link

Co-organised by Vlad Vazheyevskyy, Sasha Shestakova, Anna Engelhardt and Michał Murawski

Supported by PPV (Perverting the Power Vertical), the FRINGE Centre for the Study of Social and Cultural Complexity, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL and Reference Point

Short description

A day of talks, film screenings and conversations dissecting Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine as a colonial enterprise.

Full description

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a new phase of its colonial war against Ukraine - a war which has been ongoing since 2014, with 15,000 lives lost. Since 24 February, tens of thousands more have died, and millions have been driven from their homes.

On 24 February 2022, Russian colonial violence suddenly ceased to be local knowledge. The world noticed. While this knowledge came as a surprise to many, Russian colonial violence has long been intimately known to Ukrainian decolonial scholars, filmmakers, writers, and artists. They have felt this violence on their own bodies and in their lives, and they have warned about it in their work.

This symposium is devoted to dissecting Russia's current war against Ukraine as a colonial enterprise; and to promoting understanding of Russian colonial violence as an essential part of planetary post-colonial and decolonial theory and practice.

*Funds will be distributed among the following organisations:



Maksym Eristavi

Title TBC: Interview by Anna Engelhardt (Queen Mary University).

Abdurahman Avtorkhanov

Sasha Shestakova (Ruhr Universität) reading excerpts from “Empire of the Kremlin” (1988) by Chechen anticolonial historian Abdurahman Avtorkhanov. Translated into English for the symposium by Maksym D. Logvinov

Oleksiy Radynski (VCRC Kyiv)

The Case Against the Russian Federation

Daria Tsymbalyuk (University of St Andrews)

Erasure: Russian imperialism, my research on Donbas, and I

Victoria Donovan (University of St Andrews)

Archiving the now: decolonial resistance to cultural erasure in Ukraine, 2014-2022

Ievgeniia Gubkina (Urban Forms Centre, Kharkiv)

May You Destroy Me? The Rebuilding of Ukraine as a Process of Decolonisation


Vitaly Chernetsky (University of Kansas)

Title TBC


Curated by Olexii Kuchanskiy

One of the top-priority targets for missile attacks led by Russian troops are TV towers. Also, almost every Ukrainian now knows what an "informational psychological military operations" and "deepfakes" are, many people have learned fact-checking and continue to invent new ways to acquire agencies through information technologies – as means of consolidation and mutual support of refugees, grassroots transferring of humanitarian goods (for instance, food and medicine), and evacuation of people who are in the hottest areas.

At the same time, we observe how the Russian Federation pursues a consistent policy of gas-lighting, that is information war, in its own country, in Ukraine and worldwide. Accompanied by air-raid sirens and explosions in the basements, we receive many warnings from the Western and Russian people about the dangers of cooperating with NATO and the inevitability of escalating war in Ukraine. Many political decisions of Western states are affected by this gas-lighting.

Putinism, based on legal neopatriarchy, extractivism and militarism, has taken gas-lighting to a new level. Firstly, there is the Putinization of the political imagination, in which any alternative to the current state of affairs seems to be a mad delusion. Secondly, there is a close relation between these imaginary entities and the global network of Russian gas sales. Gas-lighting is a circumstance under which we, Ukrainians, find ourselves in the position of not-completely-being-humans – rather subjects of humanitarian support than of human rights. As we have seen, the boundaries of "humanity" are delineated by gas pipelines.

What can a moving image and a film in particular do in these processes? Are they capable of subverting them? The screening includes artistic practices that explore the ability of images to go beyond media sensations on a screen. These kinds of "empathic images" neutralize the distance between a spectator and a screen to allow evidence to do its work.


Letter to a Turtledove (2020, by Dana Kavelina)

The film is thus a second-degree feminist artistic appropriation of amateur footage shot during the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine, recombined into a surreal anti-war film-poem. The war videos are interspersed with Kavelina’s own animated segments, staged mise-en-scènes, and archival footage of the Donbass from the 1930s (when the region became a hotspot for Stalinist industrialization of the Soviet Union, and of heated class warfare) onwards.

There’s an actual poem at the film’s center: a monologue spoken off-screen, authored by Kavelina herself (and translated into English by Sergey Levchin). This piece of writing encapsulates the multitude of traumas, grievances, horrors, dreams, and hallucinations that have descended upon the Donbass region since its invasion by Russia in 2014. Still, numerous elements of this multitude originate from long before the war had actually broken out.

NO! NO! NO! (2017, by Mykola Ridnyi)

The main heroes of the film are the young people from Kharkiv, a city located in the Eastern part of Ukraine. Reaching their early twenties coincided with the breakout of the war in the neighbouring region of Donbass. An LGBT activist and poet, a fashion model, a group of street artists, a creator of a computer game – all of them are artists or working in the creative industries, typical for a peaceful life of a big city. However, the proximity to the war affects each of the characters and their activities. Heroes react and reflect political events through their specific relationships with the urban space and the reality of the social media.

Conversation with Freefilmers

What is filmmaking at war? Freefilmers, a self-organized collective of filmmakers mostly from Mariupil, remains keeping a critical framework of their own institutionings. The group uses its own network to protect the environment and experiment with disobjectifying the protagonists of documentaries, involving them in q&a-s at screenings and making decisions about film production. Today Freefilmers organizes transportation of refugees and humanitarian goods through Ukraine. Can this be considered a cinematic practice? How does this change the perception of cinema, art and the image itself?

Freefilmers is a cinemovement and NGO, which is a community of underground filmmakers, who film/troll/erode capitalism in Ukraine. The members are Sashko Protyah, Oleksandr Surovtsov, Iryna Berezneva, Yulia Serdyukova, Oksana Kazmina, Vasyl Lyah, Vova Morrow, Natasha Tselyuba.

Please click below for a PDF of the full programme, including speaker bios

Decolonisation Full Program (1)
Download PDF • 4.13MB


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