God’s River

Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac

Video, 2018, 29:55

God’s River is a short documentary film and a collection of still photographs on a critical environmental issue facing Mykolaiv Oblast and all of Ukraine. Energy producers and environmentalists agree that climate change has significantly reduced the flow of the Southern Bug River, the longest river entirely within Ukraine. But the two camps differ dramatically on how to respond. The state-operated nuclear conglomerate, EnergoAtom, proposes to raise water levels behind Alexandrivsky Dam, flooding a portion of Buszky Gard National Park. But a unique coalition of veterans, academics, ecologists and students opposes the plan because it will threaten endangered plants and animals, submerge precious archaeological digs, and destroy Gardove Island, a place that is sacred to Cossack heritage. While some urge compromise, others claim concessions could permanently kill the river. Veterans from the Donbas region forthrightly embrace the struggle as a new patriotic cause. If the Ukrainian Parliament approves the plan, they have pledged, along with their allies, to occupy Gardove Island, where a Cossack church once stood, and protect it “by all means necessary, including radical ones.”