Teaser and fragment of documentary "The Testament of Shamil" 90 min. Russia
Directed and produced by Helena Samoylova & Alexey Samoylov
The Testament of Shamil is based on exclusive interviews, unique photos, and archive footage of Chechen wood guerillas – the former commanders, who were close associates of Chechen separatist leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev from 1993 to 2004.
This is a film about the Chechen Wars, as seen through the eyes of Chechens. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union the characters of this documentary were ordinary soviet fellows who all served in the Soviet Army. They dreamed of becoming sportsmen or musicians. However, by the early 1990s they had become professional fighters. Why they took up arms, how they survived in Chechnya’s impenetrable mountains, and why they gave up and subsequently switched sides, all these questions are answered in the film. The head of Chechnya Akhmat Kadyrov became an active advocate of acquitting of former fighters. He was convinced that it was the only way to reach the peace in Chechnya. The amnesty was necessary for making those ready to end resistance and leave the forest. In 2003 the Russian Parliament declared the new amnesty for so-called former members of illegal armed units. Chechen security officials have been able to draw over almost all famous commanders from the surroundings of the self-declared republic’s leaders. Some hundreds of fighters followed them. Today, these individuals are again at war in Chechnya. This time, however, they are fighting to protect Russia’s interests, and urge the former separatists to follow their example.