What Happened in Kherson?

Directed by

Gregoriy Umalin

Produced by

Saint Gregory Productions

Written by

Oleg Kiskov
Juana Quebadieva

Release date

July 13, 2011


Tanya Kalinina
Lyubov Sulinova
Orental Gibitov
Hafimwahlid Talnaev
Yulian Markovsky
Anatoly Baychenko
Lev Arigov
Gavrina Kumilyova


m35.8 million

Box office income



109 minutes


Margovyan National Pictures

What Happened in Kherson? is a 2011 Margovyan romantic comedy film by Gregoriy Umalin and starring Tanya Kalinina, Lyubov Sulinova, Orental Gibitov, and Hafimwahlid Talnaev, with Yulian Markovsky, Anatoly Baychenko, Lev Arigov, and Gavrina Kumilyova in supporting roles. It was written by Oleg Kiskov and Juana Quebadieva. It was released in Margovyan theaters on July 13, 2011.


The film begins in early October 1918, in the last days of the First World War. Zenofon Pulitshchko (Pyotr Borodin), master of the Russian freighter Gordost' Dnepra (English: Pride of the Dnieper), docks in the city of Kherson, where he is immediately met by Count Dmitry Tagirin of Kherson (Vasily Borisov), who asks Pulitshchko if he would be willing to allow the count to load a "treasure of national importance" on his ship. Pulitshchko scoffs at the count, remarking that if the "treasure of national importance" turns out to be another "Tsarevich or Grand Duchess Anastasia who survived the Communist massacre", then he would personally throw him or her overboard. However, when Count Dmitry shows Pulitshchko a wooden crate filled with gold items and rare jewels, Zenofon agrees to transport the treasures to a safe place, whose name the count gives to Pulitshchko in a sealed envelope, which should be opened only once the Pride of the Dnieper is at sea. During the loading of the "cargo", a mysterious woman calling herself "Maria" (cameo by Viktoriya Vegova) boards the ship. Pulitshchko questions the count, who asks Zenofon to "tolerate" her, as she had convinced herself that she was the caretaker of the treasure.

The film jumps to the present day, where Denise Rae Maslennikova (Tanya Kalinina), has come to Kherson in search of her father. She had planned to do this ever since she found out that the father she had grown up with was not her biological father. Her search had led her to Kherson, her mother's hometown, where a man named Valentin Vorontsov (Yulian Markovsky) lived. Before she begins her search, she goes to the Pridnestrovskaya Bar for a drink. While downing her vodka, another girl sits beside her and orders the same. The new arrival introduces herself as Yulia Borysenko (Lyubov Sulinova), a "hopeful" investigative journalist who is on the lookout for the scoop that would propel her to journalistic fame.

The film jumps back a few days before Denise and Yulia's meeting at the Pridnestrovskaya. Yulia's fifth draft for her first newspaper article is sent back to her by the editor of the Kherson Daily Bulletin, a local tabloid, for being "too in-depth and provocative," and the editor even reminds her that their paper should only be "provocative enoguh to get the people thinking, but not enough to call government attention on us." Yulia returns home and tells this to her father, Serhiy Borysenko (Anatoly Baychenko), a more successful investigative journalist with his own column in the Daily Bulletin. Serhiy consoles his daughter, and he promises her that as soon as he finishes one of his investigations, he would hand over his other project to her so she could get the credit. She asks her father for hints about his latest investigation, but all he tells her is that it would be right up her alley.

The film returns to the Pridnestrovskaya, where Denise and Yulia are now talking over their drinks. Suddenly, a man walks up to Denise, and when they both recognize each other, the man introduces himself as Londinius Chambers (Lev Arigov), and then he introduces his girlfriend, Maggie Target (Gavrina Kumilyova). Denise asks Lonny what they are doing in Kherson, which prompts a drink for the couple. The film goes to Iasi, Romania, where Lonny and Maggie are having a videochat with the treasure hunter Asghar Magomed Karamanli (Hafimwahlid Talnaev), who is looking for volunteer divers to come with him in his latest expedition, and has chosen the couple as the lucky winners. Asghar asks them about their diving experience, which, happily enough for him, is extensive. He gives them a brief background of his latest hunt: a sizable part of the Romanov family treasures, which was smuggled to the Ukraine by Count Dmitry Tagirin of Kherson and loaded onboard the freighter Pride of the Dnieper, which was sunk by an unknown submarine, although it is rumored that the Austro-Hungarian SM-U-21 was the one responsible for sinking the ship. Lonny and Maggie agree to join Asghar's expedition, and they hitchhike their way from Iasi to Kherson to meet up with him, which is how they ended up in the Pridnestrovskaya.

The film returns to the Pridnestrovskaya, where Karamanli walks over to the group and introduces himself to Lonnie and Maggie. When Denise asks him about his exploits, he buys a drink and sits down in preparation for what he claims to be a long story. Asghar reveals that he has had little success in his treasure-hunting exploits, although these "failures" appear to be subjective as, although he has found many treasures, they are not the treasures he was looking for. For instance, in his search for a sunken Pontic fleet carrying plunder from the Odrysian city of Odessos (now Varna, Bulgaria), he instead found three Ottoman ships filled with so much Byzantine gold from Constantinople that they sank just after entering the Black Sea. Also, while searching for the tomb of Rhescuporis I, he found sizable deposits of methane hydrates off the coast of the Ukraine (he did find the king's body, though). During the presentation of the king to the Bulgarian government in Varna, he approached his sponsor at the time, Mahmoud Afagh (Timofey Ulyanov), a fellow Iranian rumored to be connected to the Kherson Bratva, and asks him to sponsor yet another job for Asghar. During his search for the lost tomb of Ereuthalion of Athens (which led to his discovery of the lost tomb of Tyrannion of Sparta), he had detected traces of gold, silver, and bronze from a spot near where he located the methane hydrates, and his research of the area revealed that a Russian freighter had been torpedoed there by an Austro-Hungarian submarine, either knowing or not knowing that it was carrying at least twenty tons of the Romanov family treasure smuggled there by a Count loyal to the royal family. Afagh seems hesitant to fund another venture for Asghar, but he eventually relents when Asghar shows him a gold coin bearing the coat of arms of the House of Romanov, which he found near where the freighter's wreck was supposed to be.

Asghar shows the same coin that he showed Afagh to the others as proof that his story is real, which gets everyone hyped up. Yulia gets Asghar to promise to tell her the story of the finding of the Pride of the Dnieper for her newspaper, and they all wish each other good luck to their respective ventures before leaving the bar. Asghar leads Lonnie and Maggie out to his limousine, but before he gets inside he is approached by a man whom he calls "Volodymyr" (Orental Gibitov. Volodymyr tells Asghar that the Ukrainian police has gone after the Kherson bratva, forcing some of its top members into hiding, Mahmoud Afagh among them. Volodymyr tells Asghar that Afagh had decided to pull out of funding Asghar's latest expedition, stating that he didn't want Asghar to get caught up in the police investigation into the Bratva. Asghar thanks Volodymyr for the information and gets in his limo and leaves.

The next day, Denise knocks on the door of an apartment and is greeted by Valentin Vorontsov (Yulian Markovsky), who embraces her and tells her that he is her real father, having been told in advance by Denise's mother that she was coming to Ukraine to look for him. Valentin invites Denise into his apartment to talk, but just as they are about to clear the air between them, Yulia walks in to Valentin's apartment. Valentin then reveals that he had been helping the Borysenkos in revealing the hidden side of the Soviet Army during the later part of the 1980s, and that he was Serhiy's main source into the secret and unknown side of the Army that propelled Serhiy Borysenko to journalistic fame in Ukraine.


Present-day charactersEdit

  • Tanya Kalinina as Denise Rae Maslennikova, a Ukrainian-American national searching for her real father, whom her mother told her was living in Kherson
  • Lyubov Sulinova as Yuliya Borysenko, a young Ukrainian investigative journalist who wants to find "the big scoop" that will finally propel her to journalist fame
  • Orental Gibitov as Volodymyr Smaglyuk, a former Ukrainian marine who joined the local Mafiya organization in Kherson before leaving it after the police brought the organization down
  • Hafimwahlid Talnaev as Asghar Magomed Karamanli, an Iranian treasure hunter who has had little success in finding treasures
  • Yulian Markovsky as Valentin Vorontsov, Denise's real father, a former Soviet Army sergeant who now helps investigative journalists Serhiy and Yuliya Borisenko in exposing the old Soviet Army's secrets
  • Anatoly Baychenko as Serhiy Borysenko, an investigative journalist who specializes in the history of the Soviet Army, the rise of the Mafiya, and the Jews of Ukraine.
  • Lev Arigov as Londinius "Lonny" Chambers, one of Denise's friends in America whom she bumps into in Kherson because he has taken up a job as a volunteer diver for Asghar Karamanli
  • Gavrina Kumilyova as Maggie Target, Lonny's girlfriend, also one of Denise's friends and Asghar's divers
  • Timofey Ulyanov as Mahmoud Afagh, one of the pakhans (Godfathers) of the Khersonskaya Bratva who managed to escape capture from the Ukrainian authorities and is now funding community projects under assumed names; one of Asghar's "sponsors" for his expeditions
  • Baba Filitov as Symon Pulitshchko, Asghar's other "sponsor," uncle of Valentin Vorontsov

1941 charactersEdit

  • Robert Elemat as Iosef Vorontsov, a Ukrainian who defected to the Nazis and helped to execute many Jews in Babi Yar
  • Genrikh Antonov as old Zenofon Pulitshchko, who was executed along with 33,771 other Jews at Babi Yar

1918 charactersEdit

  • Pyotr Borodin as young Zenofon Pulitshchko, captain of the freighter Гордость Днепра (English: Pride of the Dnieper), who agrees to transport a "treasure of national importance" for the Count of Kherson
  • Vasily Borisov as Count Dmitry Tagirin, Count of Kherson, who entrusts a "treasure of national importance" to his friend, Zenofon Pulitshchko
  • Viktoriya Vegova as "Maria", the mysterious woman who boards the ship with the "treasure of national importance"
  • Gregoriy Umalin as Anatoly Lofsky, Pulitshchko's first officer

Mstislav Pankavuranov and Gavril Remontadov also have cameo appearances as Nikolai and Pyotr, two seaman on the Pride of the Dnieper.

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