Russian authorities are battling to keep clips of a new war film from getting widely shared across the social media platform RuTube, the country’s equivalent to Youtube and its largest social media video platform.
Activists in the country have been given permission to share a new BylineTV film on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
It gives compelling evidence for the use of illegal weapons and the torture of civilians in Ukraine, as well as documenting the devastation the war has wrought on a once peaceful country.
But today, the entire channel hosting clips from the documentary was Removed by RuTube, it now says 404 Page Not Found.
President Vladimir Putin has reasserted state control over his country’s major media companies since the start of the war.
In March 2022, Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s oldest independent newspapers, announced it was suspending operations until the conclusion of the war in Ukraine following warnings from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal media censor.
The Russian government has also blocked or shut down all remaining independent sources of information in Russia, including the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy, the television channel TV Rain, and the bilingual news website Meduza.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have also been blocked, and all remaining social media channels are closely monitored.
The Eastern Front was released online on 20th May and almost immediately clips from the film were beginning to be shared on Russian social media by anti-war, pro-democracy activists.
The film follows journalists John Sweeney, Zarina Zabrisky and Paul Conroy as they travel to Ukraine’s frontline to investigate claims of torture, banned weapons like White Phosphorous and attacks targeting civilians – finding compelling evidence for each.
The film has already been submitted to the International Criminal Court and War Crimes Investigators in Ukraine as evidence.
“The Kremlin doesn’t want you to see The Eastern Front”
The film’s director, Caolan Robertson told The London Economic: “The Kremlin denies it is using banned weapons and civilian torture in Ukraine. Our documentary shows that is nonsense.
“The film follows an investigation, uncovering physical evidence and first hand accounts, as well as analysis from NATO experts. Russia banning this film is just further proof that it is desperate to hide its actions from its own people. It means they see us and our eighty minute film as a threat.
“I’m proud of that and I hope Russians find a way to see it anyway.”
John Sweeney added: “The Kremlin doesn’t want you to see The Eastern Front, well fuck that!”
Watch The Eastern Front film here.