Published on 30th May 2019 by

In Latvia the Soviet era is still visible, although the government tries to let the past be past. How is the relationship between Latvia and Russia nowadays? How is it for people in Latvia to live with a heritage that has become a burden? A documentary about Latvia and its past and new relationship with Russia.

The Baltic states still have a clear memory of the Soviet Union domination. Although Latvia is a NATO country, the fear of the Russians can be felt. Jelle visits a Latvian partisan, who fought the Soviets from the dense forests for years. And we visit the city of Daugavpils, where ninety percent of the people are Russian. How do they see Putin?

In this eight-part travel series the Dutch journalist and author Jelle Brandt Corstius travels through Russia and visits the neighbor countries Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. What image do the Russians have of their neighbors and vice versa? What are the relations between the powerful Russia and the other former Soviet republics? And how do the countries around Russia treat their Russian inhabitants? A series about propaganda and identity.

Latvia is probably the only country where the SS still gather every year. The veterans of the Latvian Legion fought alongside the Nazi`s in their own SS brigade. On March 16 they celebrate a battle in which they defeated the Red Army. For Latvians Germans are the liberators. Corstius meets veterans and explains why Latvian are still called `fascists` until a real fight on the street rises around this question.

One of the Soviet´s prisons in Latvia is now a museum, which draws thousands of visitors every year. The building has been left as it was. As a tourist you can book a tour and experience life as a prisoner. An Interrogation Russian style is included in the ticket, if you pay extra you can spend even a night in an isolation cell. How is it to experience such a tour and why are people doing it? While Russia is glorifying its Soviet past, Latvia is banishing it or making an attraction of it. In Europe, the Baltic states are the fiercest opponents of Putin´s Russia. Cortsius meets Sandra Kalniete, founder of the Latvian Popular Front, who fought for Latvian independence and became the first Foreign Minister.

Original title: De Bunker (6/8)
Director: Alexander Oey and Jelle Brandt Corstius
© VPRO September 2015

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English, French and Spanish subtitles by Ericsson and co-funded by the European Union.

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