Anton Dolin: ‘Putin’s war is against the world, not just Ukraine’

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Anton Dolin: ‘Putin’s war is against the world, not just Ukraine’

Anton Dolin, a prominent Russian film critic who was subject to abuse in Moscow over his anti-war views, now lives in Latvia.

Anton Dolin
Dolin said he, like many other Russians, did not expect his country to attack Ukraine [Courtesy: Anton Dolin]

By Sergey Faldin

Published On 20 Jul 202220 Jul 2022

Anton Dolin is Russia’s most prominent film critic and the host of a popular YouTube show – Radio Dolin.

When his country attacked Ukraine, an invasion he was firmly against, he started receiving threats.


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In Moscow, his apartment door was graffitied with the pro-war symbol, the letter ‘Z’.

Anton Dolin
Anton Dolin posted this image of his apartment door on Instagram, soon after the war began [Anton Dolin/Instagram]

Dolin saw this as a sign that he had to leave – and quickly. He relocated to Latvia with his family, where he attends film festivals and writes a weekly column in Meduza, an independent news website, about Ukrainian films.

Al Jazeera asked Dolin about his decision to flee Russia, a sense of collective shame and responsibility and the role of art during the war.

Al Jazeera: How do you feel now, as you reflect on the first days of the invasion?

Anton Dolin: None of the events in my personal life even stand close to what I experienced on February 24. Sure, everyone had been reading for several weeks that there might be a war, that troops were gathering. To me, it seemed like mankind became divided into those who believed the war could start and those who didn’t. I was among the latter.

Ultimately, I would condemn myself for this. I knew what the Russian government was capable of. I told myself: ‘Don’t have any illusions!’ But I did not believe [that the war would start]. I thought they were pragmatists. But I was wrong.

Al Jazeera: What do you mean by ‘pragmatists’?

Dolin: [Starting a war] is an anti-pragmatic move, as well as a monstrous crime. [When] I saw this was happening, I knew then that Russia, at least as we know it, was over.

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Not everyone understands this in Russia, but it’s evident that what is happening now is the end of everything good there.

Al Jazeera: Is it likely President Vladimir Putin will secure the victory he’s searching for? That is, that Russia will win this war against Ukraine?

Dolin: The war that Putin is waging now against the whole world, not just Ukraine, cannot be won under any circumstances. It just can’t.

All the post-Soviet institutions connected with culture, humanism, and the idea of ​​Russia as a democracy – you can forget all that. They will have to be rebuilt, created anew in a new state that will arise after Putin capitulates, falls, disappears, crumbles. I don’t know what will happen to him.

War is always the beginning of the end.

Al Jazeera: Why did you decide to leave Russia? Was the vandalism of your apartment door the trigger?

Dolin: My decision to leave was purely technical. When I realised that the ways of resisting the regime – addressing my rather large audience, telling the truth, saying what I think – aren’t available to me anymore because there is a law prohibiting this, I knew I had to leave.

Al Jazeera: Were you afraid to stay?

Dolin: Terrified. I was afraid I would find myself alone, in an absolute minority, and everyone would attack me, including those closest to me. Then, of course, I was afraid of the authorities – I oppose them, but fighting against the propaganda machine of a warring country is futile.

Do you think someone would be pleased to see the letter Z wri

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