Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Putin System: a presidential junkie

For three years, filmmakers Jean-Michel Carré and Jill Emery interviewed dozens of people to gain insight into the life and political motivations of Russia's most powerful politician, Vladimir Putin. They spoke to long-time supporters, like Putin's former schoolteacher, Vera Gurvich, to his harshest critics, like world chess champion Garry Kasparov, as well as many KGB and Kremlin insiders. What emerged is a point-of-view documentary that presents an ominous view of what Putin is willing to do to ensure Russia regains its position on the world stage.

Vlad the Inhaler? Is Vladimir Putin snorting power up his nostrils like a presidential junkie? Is he what! As a 23-year-old, Putin's dream of being a KGB operative became a reality and he was busily spying in Germany. His ambitions were rudely curtailed by perestroika and Putin was aghast to see the organisation he yearned to serve disintegrate - like the rest of the imploding Soviet Union. Ordered back to St Petersburg by his KGB controllers, Putin attached himself to Anatoly Sobchak, a liberal politician jockeying for election as the city's mayor. Former contacts in Germany provided useful conduits for humanitarian relief, which was efficiently ripped off and on-sold in pursuit of influence.
The profile of the gimlet-eyed Putin charts his rise through the ranks via the patronage of Sobchak and Anatoly Chubais. His eventual appointment as head of the KGB put him in a position to curry favour with the boofheaded Boris Yeltsin and paved the way for his election as prime minister. It's a grubby story about a dangerous and devious individual and the closing reels show the puppet President turning on the oligarchs who supported him - ordering a new invasion of Chechnya and responding vigorously to separatist guerillas.
Will he stand aside in 2008? Probably not. He lost to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, despite having a squirrel grip on the country, and is probably savvy enough to know that neutralising opposition indefinitely is about as likely as him dying in bed(via smh)

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