Dmitry Medvedev highlighted that it is essential to preserve the memory of the events of August 2008 in order to make sure that such military conflicts do not take place again in the future.
The President congratulated the meeting participants on the Defender of the Fatherland Day.
The film August 2008 directed by Dzhanik Faiziev was released on February 21. It is based on the events that took place in August 2008 in South Ossetia.
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Excerpts from transcript of meeting with creators of the film August 2008 and veterans of the military operation in South Ossetia
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon!
First of all, I would like to sincerely congratulate all of our officers present today at the premiere of August 2008 here in Glavkino on the Defender of the Fatherland Day.
On my way here today I thought back to the events of that period. They have been etched in my memory as very tragic events and at the same time, a page in Russia’s military history that culminated in a glorious victory. It is essential that we return to those events today. It is important for the people of our country, for all our citizens, for the memory of your comrades who died defending the citizens of our country and other people, and to ensure that similar events never occur again, and if they do, our response must be just as hard, strong, tough, effective and sufficient both in scope and in its consequences.
”It is essential that we return to the events of August 2008 today. It is important for the memory of your comrades who died defending the citizens of our country and other people, and to ensure that similar events never occur again.“
I would like to again thank you all for everything that you did at that time. It truly was Russia’s victory, and an absolutely humane victory, regardless of how events may develop or what history books may say. The aim of those actions was to defend a large number of people, and all of us here contributed to our victory.
Today we have the opportunity not only to remember what happened then, but also to talk about the reflection those events have found in art, in cinema, and in the film you watched today. I would be very interested to hear your views. I have seen the film too and will say a few words about it later but first I would like to hear your opinions.
It will also be very important for the creative team behind the film, most of whom are present here today. We must think about ways to make our films both interesting and at the same time inherently Russian. That is, they must be truthful, they must show all the facets of our life, including its tragedies, and at the same they must focus on the bright side of life. In general, they should reflect life as it is, though within the framework of art. So for me it would be fascinating to hear your thoughts about this.
Let's also talk about your lives, and if you like, we can touch on the development of the Armed Forces. I took part in several related events because of the holiday. The day before yesterday I took part in a very important event for the Strategic Missile Forces, when one of the missile regiments was deployed, and I also presented state decorations. Today I am meeting with you.
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I will say just a couple more words about the following issue. No doubt, producing a film requires time. It is a hard job which does not usually last a month or two, although sometimes it is not an extremely lengthy process. You have just watched a film which turned out impressive, epic and sophisticated in reflecting broad spectrum of elements, so producing it was a long process. I absolutely agree with all the officers who spoke here of the need to always remember the events of those five days.
”We must think about ways to make our films both interesting and at the same time inherently Russian. They must be truthful, they must show all the facets of our life, including its tragedies, and at the same they must focus on the bright side of life.“
Everything in this world is at some moment forgotten – absolutely everything. Unfortunately, even the most glorious pages in history will, at some point, fade into the background. And the way that these events are depicted in film, which is perhaps the most widespread art form, will determine how these events will be remembered by our descendants. It is therefore very important to show the truth.
You rightly said that at the time various foreign media were claiming that Russia had attacked a defenceless state and so on, while in fact, our army was essentially saving people, children and the elderly. Nevertheless, the truth must always know how to defend itself.
I am absolutely certain that the historical perspective will convey things accurately and find the precise wording. But for now, the film has continuing importance in this sense. After all, you also know this, perhaps you read or saw something – the Georgian leadership gives its own assessment of these events. These assessments are certainly different from ours, because we know who was the aggressor on that day, who launched the attack on August 8, 2008. Today, everyone knows it, but some people admit it, while others are silent, and still others lie. And this film’s important mission is to show the truth, to show it through the language of film, with certain assumptions that are characteristic of cinema. I can tell you that in my view (and now, it is easy for me to say it, because you have spoken out about it), I think it succeeded. And people who watch this film will see the events of this five-day war, a tragedy unfolding, the drama of one individual – a woman who saves her child.
”At the time various foreign media were claiming that Russia had attacked a defenceless state and so on, while in fact, our army was essentially saving people, children and the elderly. Nevertheless, the truth must always know how to defend itself. I am absolutely certain that the historical perspective will convey things accurately and find the precise wording.“
It is also critical, as our comrades said, that the film does not elicit anger toward Georgians. Indeed, the film is not about negative attitudes toward people. The war was no fault of the Georgian people. The people at fault are the leaders who made that decision, but not those who were obligated to take up arms, perhaps against their will. And that is a humanistic component of this film. You succeeded in this as well.
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There is another aspect I find very significant. Our Armed Forces create a strong impression in this film. And this is good, first of all, because we truly do have powerful armed forces, and second, because this military operation was successful and brief. When you watch the film, you feel pride in our Armed Forces and the people who fought. One not only follows the plot development, sympathetic to the main protagonist, the boy, but also sees the extent of how the service members are professional and precise.
Naturally, things in real life are a little more complicated. That’s clear. Nevertheless, I think that this is also very important, because we all watch Hollywood films. How do they show their own army? You watch and you think: they’re good! And it’s true, the Americans are quite good. In this way, they lift the morale of their armed forces and the feeling of patriotism among those who watch this Hollywood product.
We should also create similar examples of cinematic works that will elicit such feelings, feelings of pride in our Armed Forces. There is no reason to be shy. We have heard so much destructive criticism during different periods, both for good reasons, when denouncing everyone and everything, as well as absolutely the wrong reasons. Indeed, there were even times when some people mocked the most significant, most sacred events. I think it is exceedingly important that everything in this film is dignified and corresponds to historic fact.
Ultimately, it is also a demonstration of what we can do, so the people running particular states understand that they shouldn’t meddle, because if they meddle again, the response will be the same. Whatever they say, they still don’t stand a chance. They have already suffered the greatest defeat of their lives and will forever be written into history, including that of the Georgian people, as people who led their own nation to tragedy. But today is not about them.
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On behalf of all officers, service members present here and the senior officials of the Defence Ministry, as well as myself as Commander-in-Chief, I thank you for creating what I believe is a very interesting film. We would like to thank the director, the lead actors, and everyone who participated, as well as those who organised the production.
Thank you very much. We congratulate you all on Defender of the Fatherland Day.