Documentary multimedia project
marking 30 years of Ukraine's independence
Film by Tetiana Stoliarova and Oleksandra Chernova
Miners’ self-immolations, the Berkut special police force dispersing protestors with tear gas, independent television in the "pre-stream" era, which breaks the information blockade, the 600 km march of many thousands of miners from Western Donbas to Kyiv and the rumble of helmets in the packed squares of Donetsk and Dnipro - all this is the history of miners’ protests in Ukraine before and during the first years of independence.
Film by Serhii Zakharchenko and Liza Sivets
After the world's largest nuclear disaster at Chornobyl, Ukrainians came out for their first environmental protests. First in Kyiv and then all over Ukraine. From Netishin in Western Ukraine, near where the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant was being built, to Zaporizhzhia, where eco-anarchist students climbed the pipes of Koksokhim to stop the harmful production.


Film by Olena Zashko and Liza Sivets

The Soviet Union's leadership concealed the Afghan war for a long time. Over ten years, more than 160,000 Ukrainians fought in Afghanistan. They all went "to perform international duty" and returned to independent Ukraine, which "did not owe" the Afghan warriors - they were sent to war by a state that no longer existed. This film tells the stories of four former Afghans who fought in different years and who talk about their experiences of the war, their physical and emotional trauma and whether they were able to overcome it. The veterans recall their experiences in different ways, but the trauma they suffer is the same - the indifference of the state and the aloofness of society.


Film by Anna Yeresko and Anna Tsyhyma

To go to Poland with a checkered bag full of soldering irons and kirza boots, to start her own business in Ukraine’s completely new fashion industry, to flee the country and wander in refugee camps - these are only three of the possible ways that a Ukrainian woman could choose in 1990s to survive and feed her family. The stories of women's survival during the crisis of the first decade of Ukraine's independence resemble dramatic movie scripts. Watching their stories, you can’t help but ask yourself: would we have survived in the 1990s? The film is about the resilience and survival skills that Ukrainian women mastered so that we can take care of ourselves today. 


Film by Nataliya Gumenyuk and Anna Tsyhyma

What did Crimean Tatars go through when returning to Crimea after decades of exile in the late 1980s? The right to buy a house, get a residence permit without which they cannot be hired -- these rights were ones that Crimean Tatars had to fight for through numerous protests, constant pressure, and negotiations with local officials. Moreover, they faced blatant racism on a daily basis. The government-controlled media pummeled the population with propaganda. Yet pickets from Moscow to Taman and throughout Crimea, petitions, peaceful marches, self-immolation, and, finally, the self-return of land, which the authorities called squatting - all this eventually worked. This film is the story of an entire people's return, a story of victory in opposition to the system and thanks to cohesion. However, many had to lose their home for the second time after the Russian occupation of the peninsula in 2014.


Film by Ksenia Marchenko

The film is about the New Amusements that emerged in the 1990s and the new dimension of freedom for the post-Soviet individual. The first nightclubs in Kyiv and Kharkiv; the first sex shop in Ivano-Frankivsk; the first casino in Sloviansk whose croupiers took back lost money in cellophane bags by cab; the first beauty salon in Donetsk instead of the Soviet barbershop; and the first fashion shows with magicians.


Film By Yevhen Spirin And Oleksandr Popenko

This is the story of the "White Brotherhood" - the most notorious religious sect in the post-Soviet countries, its leaders Yuri Krivonogov, who renounced his doctrine as a result, and Maryna Tsvihun, known as Maria Devi Khristos, who was imprisoned, sought a political affiliation, supported Russia's aggression in Crimea and the war in Donbas, and is now engaged in "cosmic art". This film is about how in the early 1990s the existence of such a sect became possible and what changed after the arrest of the sect's followers.

Faster, Higher, Stronger in the 90s

Film by Anna Tsygyma and Halyna Boyko
The first Ukrainian Olympic champions share their memories on how, after gaining independence from the USSR, Ukraine competed in the Olympic Games as part of the United Team. Why did a huge number of athletes and coaches go abroad after the collapse of the USSR? What happened to those who stayed? Apart from sports, what did the champions have to do to earn a living?  And how did Ukrainian sport eventually become independent?

Among the protagonists of the movie are Ukrainian Olympic medalists  Kateryna Serebrianska, Olena Petrova, Vadym Gutzeit, Oleksandr Krykun, Olena Pakholchyk.
The Day When. 24 August 1991
Film by Angelina Kariakina and Anna Tsyhyma
This is a chronicle of August 24, 1991 – one day in the life of a  country, which was then born in front of its future citizens in different corners: at the helm of the plane, at sea on a ship, on the wedding day and at maternity hospital, in the walls of the Verkhovna Rada and the studio of Ukrainian Radio.

On that day, Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada  of Ukraine voted for Ukraine’s independence from the USSR.  Millions of Ukrainians learned about the news via radio. The protagonists of the film are the radio host on August 24, 1991, as well as Ukrainians from different parts of the country: a sailor from Odesa, a pilot from Donetsk, and  a train attendant from Chernihiv.
'Our 30 years'
30 years... the age when we start to think: what made us the way we are? What made us stronger in our path to independence? The common experiences during these years, our common traumas, everything that Ukrainians went through in the lead up to independence, and the first years of independent Ukraine. Our 1990s.
'OUR 30 YEARS' is a multimedia project of the Ukrainian public broadcaster, exploring the history of Ukraine’s independence and the years that followed - as told by Ukrainians themselves. The project gives a platform for Ukrainians’ memories and reflections on the 1990s - on the formative lived experiences that are common to Ukrainians of different backgrounds and opinions.
'OUR 30 YEARS' comprises 9 documentaries, 20 podcasts and dozens of short videos with oral histories. The documentaries can be watched on YouTube with English subtitles.
The project has been created by the team of the Public Interest Journalism Lab, building on research carried out as part of the research project ‘From Memory Wars to a Common Future’, led by the Arena research programme.
Watch on YouTube with English subtitles
Project Team
Nataliya Gumenyuk – editor-in-chief, executive producer
Anna Tsyhyma – director
Darya Davydenko – designer
Vlad Azarov – multimedia editor
Victoria Kurchynska – producer
Tata Peklun – multimedia producer