The play based on the book by ex-Russian military will be performed in Germany

Former Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatyev

The Altonaer Theater in Hamburg is scheduled to stage a play based on the book by Pavel Filatyev, a former Russian soldier who participated in Russia’s full-scale war of Ukraine, called “ZOV – The forbidden story”. A Russian soldier’s complaint about the poor state of the Russian military during the invasion of Ukraine. 

What are the next things that should happen? The report of an SS guard in the concentration camp about lousy troop entertainment?

This is the theater’s own production based on Filatyev’s book. Tickets for the show cost from 22 euros. Kai Hufnagel, a director and actor, is responsible for the production and the stage adaptation, while Tobias Dürr plays the narrator and soldier Pavel Filatyev.

Pavel Filatyev

“An insider’s account of a former Russian soldier about the attack on Ukraine – and what Moscow is hiding. Former paratrooper Pavel Filatyev says that “they turned us into barbarians” in February 2022 when Russian troops invaded Ukraine. His spectacular story “ZOV” about unfavorable conditions in the army, incompetent commanders, faulty military equipment, constant information chaos, arbitrariness, corruption, malnutrition, brutal drill and senseless debacle is named after the markings on the equipment of the Russian army, which became infamous as a symbol of the war of aggression.

The play also tells the story of young Pavel, who, due to financial difficulties, joins the army, not expecting to be sent to war, the shocking reality of which leaves him even more unprepared. This is the report of a person who, as a result of his experience at the front, became an ardent critic of this war.” – this is how the play is described on the theater’s website.

In Germany, the rights to the book are owned by Hoffmann and Campe Verlag.

It is noteworthy that the project assisted Filatyev in relocating to France from Russia. At the end of March 2023, the founder of the project, Volodymyr Osechkin, announced that his project would temporarily stop the program of evacuation abroad of Russian military personnel who claim to oppose the war. He then said that the decision was related to Filatyev, who allegedly turned out to be involved in war crimes.

“As the Swedish journalist Erik de la Reguera finds out, at the time of writing us letters at the end of July 2022, his first interviews with us in August and subsequent meetings with journalists in France, Pavlo Filatiev knew that a number of Ukrainians detained by him and by his comrades-in-arms from the airborne forces, were subsequently shot and hanged, that is, killed. But Pavel did not tell us anything like that, de facto hiding his involvement in the war crimes committed against Ukrainians,” wrote Osechkin.

Volodymyr Osechkin, a Russian-born human rights activist who operates the anti-corruption website from Paris

The soldier alleged accused of war crimes is to have refused to communicate with the famous Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Zolkin and to testify to Ukrainian prosecutors and investigators at the embassy in Paris. He also claimed that he learned about war crimes from former comrades in the service already after the publication of his “book” ZOV.

Osechkin expressed his apologies to all those who, at the request of, were involved in helping Filatyev, stating that he is prepared to answer for his mistakes and would like to revoke the presidents’ authority over the New Dissidents Foundation Association.

Feine Ukraine -Verein der deutsch-ukrainischen Zusammenarbeit activists will hold a rally against the play “ZOV – the forbidden story” on 1 May.

“While Russia continues the war in Ukraine and people are dying every day from Russian missiles, Hamburg is allegedly “proudly” preparing to stage a play about the criminal and former soldier Pavel Filatiev,” volunteers of Feine Ukraine – Verein der deutsch-ukrainischen Zusammenarbeit said in a statement.

“Profiting from the suffering of people in Ukraine is just as inhumane as the crimes committed by Pavel in Ukraine. He is a criminal and his book should never have been turned into a play,” the volunteers stressed and called for protests.

The theatre then announced the cancellation of the ZOV show on 30 April at the Altonaer Museum – but not “due to public pressure”, but allegedly “for the safety of visitors and museum-goers with children”. However, the show has been cancelled only at the museum, while the play has not been removed from the repertoire – its website states that tickets are available for May 1. The theatre justifies the controversial decision with “freedom of art”.

“Creative freedom ends where human rights are violated. No to ZOV in Hamburg!” – the activists countered. The theatre did not respond to the invitation to discuss the situation, they said, so the call for a rally remains in force.

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