Film Explores 1999 Apartment Bombings

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 3

As this issue of Chechnya Weekly goes to press, attendees at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in Utah are discussing the world debut there of a new documentary film entitled “Disbelief,” directed by Andrei Nekrasov. The festival’s catalogue describes the film as “deploying all the suspense and drama of a sophisticated murder mystery…one of the most compelling and captivating films of the year.”

The film views the controversy of the 1999 apartment bombings through the lens of one family’s experience. Tatyana and Alyona Morozov at first believed the official version of the Moscow bombing that killed their mother, but the findings of both Russian and American journalists–including David Satter’s careful research published in his 2003 book Darkness at Dawn–forced them to reconsider. Tatyana, married to an American and living in Milwaukee, agreed to help Nekrasov in his film project by returning to Russia and meeting with victims of the bombings and with both official and unofficial investigators, including the ex-KGB/FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin.

As shown in the film, Tatyana asks family friends as well as experts whether they think Satter’s theory could be correct. Did the post-Soviet Russian government, the government of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, conspire to murder its own citizens for the sake of creating a pretext for war?

The January 14 issue of Moskovskie novosti includes an interview with Nekrasov conducted by correspondent Rostislav Vylegzhanin, who asked the director to compare “Disbelief” with the Berezovsky-financed film “Assassination of Russia.” Nekrasov insisted that his own film was quite different. “In ‘Assassination of Russia’ are present all the elements that I avoid in my own film, such as an off-screen [professional narrator’s] voice telling you who is to blame and what you should think,” he said. “In my film I talk about simple, ordinary people. Since I myself was unable to reach objective conclusions about the situation, I pose the question more broadly: How much is human life in general now worth in Russia?”

Nekrasov described Trepashkin, who gave him two long interviews, as “the most open and best-informed” of those who took part in the film. He said it was “strange” that the lawyer’s arrest last fall came “at just that moment when he as lawyer for the Morozov family was studying the materials from the criminal case about the explosions.”

Like the director, the Morozov sisters also find themselves unable to reach firm conclusions about the 1999 bombings. The film leaves viewers free to weigh all the facts presented and decide for themselves.

More information about “Disbelief” is available from its website (recommended especially for those with high-speed Internet connections): For information about renting the film, e-mail