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Kherson journalist who reported from Russian occupation for three months now serves in the UAF

01.03.2024, 13:07
Photo by Radio Liberty
Photo by Radio Liberty

Kherson-based journalist Dmytro Bahnenko, who filmed three months of his family's life under Russian occupation, now serves in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Watching his film is morally taxing for him, he said in his Radio Liberty interview.

For three months, Dmytro filmed everything happening in Kherson. These were protest rallies that were brutally suppressed by the Russian troops, food and medicine shortages, Russian military equipment moving through the streets of Kherson, shelling. His videos were the basis of the BBC documentary "Occupation".

He and his family have since left occupied Kherson and settled in Kyiv. The journalist's daughter Ksiusha, who was the documentary's protagonist, is already a first-grader in school. The journalist admits that reminiscing on the occupation and what has been happening in Kherson during the war is morally taxing, so he has little desire to rewatch his film.

"Many things I associate with Kherson and my family, with my loved ones, were ruined not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and that must have been very traumatic, so I set both the movie and the materials aside for other times. Maybe my grandchildren will dig them up," he said.

The idea to record the occupation and the subsequent events came to him immediately, Dmytro says. Although, he noted, doing it was dangerous even before the Russian troops captured Kherson.

According to the journalist, he did not keep the footage in Kherson, but immediately uploaded it to a cloud storage. After all, storing such videos under occupation was risky.

After Dmytro and his family left Kherson, the filming continued in Kyiv, where the family moved to. Then the British BBC team started working on the film – mostly on the script, consulting the journalist for some details.

The film was released in October 2022. The journalist says that most difficult aspect of working on the "Occupation" was to be both a participant and a recorder of the events.

"Because we usually play one role. We either dance or film someone dancing. The dancing and the filming are done by two different people. But in my case, I had to split myself in two and record what I was doing. Since I was doing this for several months, it was actually very difficult to get out of this state and gather myself back into a single person, so to speak," the journalist says.

When he came back with the UAF, he decided that he wanted to focus on what he was doing here and now: "And do so as wisely as possible. So I choose for myself the less emotionally taxing, so to speak, ways to record and process this reality."

Bahnenko admits that some things that happen on his duty are impossible not to film.

"Something begs to be filmed. And you just can't stop. But it doesn't happen every day. Because it's actually both exhausting and just plain distracting from the tasks at hand. So I do it in other ways. That is, it is not purposeful video filming. I think someone will be able to process this content later and find ways to make it into something. But that will be later," the journalist notes.

Earlier, Dmytro Bahnenko spoke to the IMI about filming under occupation.

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