German documentary about Putin shown on Russian TV

Russia’s Gazprom-owned NTV showed Hubert Seipel’s documentary film "I, Putin. A portrait" on 7 May. (The film about Vladimir Putin, who has now taken up presidency, was initially scheduled to be shown on NTV on the eve of the presidential election but the broadcast was postponed "following complaints from the Central Electoral Commission, as well as complaints from viewers and Russian presidential candidates, news agency reported on 2 March.)

The film showed Putin talking about his childhood and why he took up sport, as well as his childhood friend talking about Putin’s parents. Sergey Stepashin, chairman of the Audit Chamber, was shown describing Putin as a reliable friend and when asked about his shortcomings, he said: "It is very difficult to convince him to change his mind and he does not forgive people who even once betrayed, deceived or insulted him. He does not forgive and he would not let it go."

Putin was also shown laughing for quite a while after having been asked about US assertion that the missile defence elements to be deployed in Europe were aimed against Iran. The film also showed Putin speaking in German in Bundestag in 2001, hunting deer in Siberia, playing ice hockey, attending judo training, swimming in a private swimming pool and being friendly with his Labrador, and telling the interviewer how he wanted to work in intelligence or counter-intelligence. The film also recalled the events leading to arrest and imprisonment of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskiy.

The film started with Putin saying at the back of a car in German that the negative attitude towards him in the West was to do with the fear of Russia, it vastness, its nuclear weapons and its abilities in other areas, and adding that this was old thinking.

Deer hunting in Siberia

The film went on to show Putin, accompanied by the then emergencies minister, Sergey Shoygu, heading off to hunt deer in Siberia, Putin driving truck with over-sized tyres in the snow-covered forest and Putin tasting a deer roasted on a skewer.

The film also showed footage from One Russian congress, protest rally, interview with Sergey Ivanov, the head of Russian Presidential administration since December 2011, and Putin playing ice-hockey.

Childhood, sport

Putin was shown recalling his childhood in St Petersburg, then called Leningrad: "I mostly spent time in the yard, with little boys like myself, they were all like me. There were no oligarchs and there were no party functionaries either – they lived in other places. These were the most ordinary people from working families, boys and girls, and this is where we spent most of our time – from morning till evening, if not to say till night. Then the parents came home and called us in – the entire life took place in the yard.

"We had one room: 24 or 25 square metres, we I lived with my parents. There was another family of three people [in another room] and a yet another family – it had only two people." The narrator recalled the hardships and tragedy of the war, especially for Leningrad.

Putin continued by saying: "Generally speaking, I cannot say that we had an emotional family so that everyone would have told something to one other and share. No, everyone somehow lived quite inward. Naturally, we were friendly, the parents were together for so many years, until the end of their lives. Nevertheless, it is not that there would have been emotional stories being told with excitement, about heroism or problems or these tragedies – they did not like to speak about this."

Sergey Roldugin, captioned as a childhood friend, was shown speaking about Putin’s parents: "The father was, you know, a proletarian like this, he all the time criticized Volodya. He came – and, of course, he loved his son, this is understood – but he was always afraid to come across as being too kind. The mother, however, was simply kindness itself – the most important thing for her was that there should not be any conflict – everyone should be good, she always wanted for everything to be peaceful and without any conflicts. The father was entirely different – like a working-class man."

The film showed Putin at judo practice and in the interview he explained why he had taken up sport: "Initially, why I went into the sport? When we were all the same, run around the yard, when we were five, six, seven or eight years old, everyone was the same. Later, when growing up more, at the age of 13 or 14, different processes stat in the body – someone becomes taller, stronger, bigger, physically more effective – and having character alone was no longer enough to maintain leadership. I was drawn, of course, towards looking for instruments that would enable me to retain my position in the herd." "The skill of giving yourself for the sake of an achievement, victory and result, and to have the experience of acting in this way – it is very important to have and to gain this kind of experience."

Missile defence

When asked in an interview about US missile defence being aimed against Iran, Putin produced a genuine-sounding laughter lasting for quite a while. He went on to explain: "With regard to us, why does this cause concerns for us? The radars that should be deployed in Europe and the interceptor missiles that should be deployed in Europe – they cover the territory of the Russian Federation up to the Urals and in a way neutralize part of our ground-based nuclear forces, which are the foundation of our nuclear deterrent – and all this is being understood by specialists. Thus, simply telling us: you, chaps, don’t be frightened, we will do this but will not use this against you, we are good, look into our honest eyes. Well, this is not a way to do things, this why I found this so funny".


Putin also described how he had wanted to work for intelligence or counter-intelligence. Childhood friend Roldugin recalled how Putin had explained to him what he was doing for a living. When he asked Putin whether he was guarding something or catching criminals, he had replied: "No, I am a specialist in relations with people". Roldugin added: "It was pointless asking him about his profession." When asked whether he had told his wife before the wedding that he was a KGB agent, Putin said: "She did not know this for a long time, I did not tell her about this for a long time but later, of course. Later, of course, I told her – she had to know who she was marrying."

Putin was shown swimming alone in an indoor pool, where his Labrador came up to him at the poolside when he was half-emerged and seemed to lick him on both sides of his face.

Putin was shown describing how he came to Moscow to look for work after his boss lost election in St Petersburg in 1996, [ex-finance minister Aleksey] Kudrin was shown commenting on Putin becoming head of FSB, Sergey Ivanov, recalled how Putin had invited him to become his deputy.

Video showed Yeltsin at a meeting, the documentary recalled that Putin’s first decree as president was to give Yeltsin and his family immunity from criminal prosecution.

Stepashin on Putin’s good and bad points

Sergey Stepashin, captioned as chairman of the Audit Chamber since 2000, was shown saying about Putin: "If you are together with him, if you are friends with him, he is reliable and will go with you to the end. He will never sell you short. I think that in life this is very important, in politics this is twice as important and for a man this is a special quality when you are not a traitor or a coward, you don’t let down the people who are close to you." When asked about Putin’s negative features, Stepashin started with a joke: "If he were retired, I would, of course, list them." He continued: "It is very difficult to convince him to change his mind and he does not forgive people who even once betrayed, deceived or insulted him. He does not forgive and he would not let it go."

Oligarchs, Khodorkovskiy

Putin explained how in 1990s the state had been weak and oligarch had been running the show in Russia. The film showed meeting in 2003, shortly before Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovskiy was arrested. The narrator said about Khodorkovskiy: "This billionaire, within a few years, thanks to dubious deals and the best connection in the government, became one of the riches people in Russia. He is declaring a war on the new president, financing the opposition and places his main bet on the West. He wants to sell his Yukos oil concern, the second largest in the country, to an American oil conglomerate. He accuses the Kremlin of corruption. Putin is fending off the accusations with accusations of tax evasion. The question is about who is in charge in the country."

Video showed archive footage of the exchange between Khodorkovskiy, who raised the issue of government corruption, and Putin, who raised the issue of tax evasion, and the narrator said: "A few months later Khodorkovskiy was detained on charges of tax evasion and was sentenced to eight years in prison." Putin was also shown saying there was nothing wrong with him saying "A thief should be in prison" on the eve on Khodorkovskiy’s second verdict. He explained that his comments referred to the first verdict.

The documentary also showed archive footage of Putin sorting out a situation in a troubled single industry town of Pikalevo in 2009, telling tycoon Oleg Deripaska to sign a contract and asking for his pen back.

The film ended with Putin, still wearing ice-hockey gear, joking with fellow players after a match.

Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 1735 gmt 7 May 12;, in Russian 1224 gmt 2 March 12


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s