Javier Morales (JM): Why did you make a documentary about the crisis in Ukraine? What did you want to share?
Ricardo Marquina (RM): I am not a journalist but I like telling stories. Over this past year and a half I experienced the biggest of the stories of my small and discrete CV; a story that has certainly changed Europe’s map for ever, that has claimed the lives of thousands of people, that has divided the world again between east and west, and that has changed my life in a significant and decisive way.
I have witnessed the Ukrainian conflict in all its stages, since its almost naive beginning in Maidan until the bloody battle of Devaltseve. This is the reason why I decided to tell this story in the most honest way that I could with the sole use of my images, narrating what I saw through my camera and listening to the people who were there, regardless of whether I agree with their opinion or not.
It was also important to tell this story without having someone paying for it, without sponsors. This was the only way that I could present my story firmly in the public and assume that all the merits and all the errors in telling the story are mine.
I felt the necessity to count what I have seen and the urge to leave something behind for those who want to watch it, an essay, if you will, that narrates what has impressed me so. And wanted to do this without format barriers, without the mould of mass media.
My documentary “Ukraine: the year of chaos” does not mean anything more than talking about what happened, remaining far from hysterias and trying not to take sides according to previous phobias or sympathies. I do not know if I have made it, but I can assure you this is what I have tried to do.
JM: What images or situations have influenced you the most?
RM: Obviously, this road had a lot of moments that I will never forget and that will remain in the sensor of my camera forever. The corps on Maidan square, the queues of Russian armed vehicles taking positions in Crimea, the first death of a citizen in Donbass, in Kramatorsk (a very beautiful girl, murdered by an AK burst of the Ukrainian National Guard), the sound of the bombs falling just a few meters away, the desperation in the eyes of all those people who had lost everything… many dead and lots of blood that I cannot erase from my mind and for which I still cannot find a justification.
JM: Do you think that there is an objective view about this conflict in Spain?
RM: Like all wars, this as well is a story full of nuances and different points of view, where both parties claim to be right and accuse the opposite side of lying and using propaganda. I perfectly understand that Ukrainians take one side or another, this is what Russians do as well. Russians are very sensitive about everything that is happening in their brother country and are living under an information monopole that only shows one side of the conflict. But I am fascinated and horrified equally by the fact that even in Europe, and especially in Spain, people also take sides in a dogged, indisputable manner, as if it were a football game.
The level of information of Western media is as shameless as Russian. There is no single word about the abuses of paramilitaries -certainly Nazi- between the Ukrainian troops, forgetting the civilian casualties and the bombs cheered by Brussels, not a word that Ukraine started this war after a coup that was applauded by the West.
JM: How do people in Russia perceive what is happening in their neighbouring country?
RM: When you are living in Russia, you can see how every day people’s hatred for Russia and the West is rising, fed by Russian media that are constantly vomiting lies and hatred. A hatred not without reasons and motives, but inflated up to an absurd point by mass media that never show the dark side of pro-Russian militias or the real presence of an enormous quantity of military material and Russian military on Ukrainian ground.
JM: And in the Ukraine? Is there any hope among the population for peace?
RM: Many Ukrainians still think that military victory is possible, largely due to the Ukrainian TV propaganda. Even so, lots of people understand that what its government tries to do is to “lose with dignity”.
The climate of fear, generated by propaganda, leads one part of the Ukrainian society to want an open conflict with Russia, with the hope of receiving military help from NATO. Additionally, the far right sectors will not accept surrendering, defeat nor truce. In this case, Poroshenko or whomever occupies his place in Kiev is risking a new edition of Maidan.