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Ukrainian embassy condemns Australian broadcast of documentary filmed on Russian side of front line

by Elsa Court March 19, 2024 6:17 PM 3 min read
A recently bombed residential area is seen amid artillery shelling on Dec. 31, 2023, in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. (Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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The Ukrainian Embassy in Australia on March 19 condemned the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for broadcasting "The Other Side" on March 18, a documentary that purports to show Russia's invasion of Ukraine from the perspective of Russian soldiers.

The program "was the journalistic equivalent of a bowl of vomit," and ABC "should be ashamed that it put such total garbage to air," the embassy said.

The film was first broadcast in the U.K. on Feb. 19 by British channel ITV, which described the film as a "groundbreaking documentary offering a rare and human perspective on life on the Russian frontline."

The documentary follows British journalist Sean Langan's visits to the Russian side of the front line in Russian-occupied Donbas between the autumn of 2022 and the spring of 2023.

Langan speaks to Russian soldiers, offering a "rare insight" into their lives, ABC said in a statement. "It adds to our understanding of this tragic conflict and shows the full, horrific impact of the war."

The embassy said that Langan's film "unquestioningly repeated and aired countless blatant lies, historical distortions, racist claims, and propaganda narratives emanating from the Kremlin."

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One soldier Langan interviews claims that "Russians never wanted war," and blames Ukraine for the ongoing invasion.  

"We could have just sat together with an accordion, a balalaika, playing music and drinking vodka, but they don't want to," he tells the camera.

The Ukrainian embassy condemned the film for minimizing "the deaths of thousands of innocent Ukrainian men, women, and children who have been killed by Russian soldiers in an illegal and brutal invasion."

In the film, Langan speaks to a Russian soldier who says he was in Bucha in Kyiv Oblast at the start of the full-scale invasion, where hundreds of civilians were killed under Russian occupation.

The Ukrainian Embassy said it has asked for a meeting with the managing director of ABC "to understand what process led to the airing of this pro-Putin and pro-violence propaganda piece by Australia's national broadcaster."

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