Director Oliver Stone remains a political dramatist and film director. Many of his films contains political hot button issues, including his interview with Vladimir Putin. The Assassination of American President John F. Kennedy with its conspiratorial plot. He did films on Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. He dealt with “Wall Street”, Central American rebellions and the recent Intelligence scandal of Edward Snowden.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Oliver Stone, he usually has something interesting to say. In this case, he interviews Vladimir Putin who has been vilified in the press – possibly for 2016 Election Interference. And, according to Stone, possibly not.
Putin Is a Chess Player
Putin served in the KGB and navigated the horrendous corridors of power in that organization, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Russia as a country is unusual in that it strives to be European (dictated by its geography west of the Caucasus), but feels both European and Asian. Despite the best efforts of Peter the Great to shake off the ancient ruling class of kulaks and Alexander III’s freeing of the serfs, Russia remains an impenetrable culture to most Americans and much of the West. Winston Churchill said that the Russians were a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Putin in KGB uniform, c. 1980
In 1975, Putin joined the KGB
, and trained at the 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad. After training, he worked in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence
), before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate
, where he monitored foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad. From 1985 to 1990, he served in Dresden
, East Germany
, using a cover identity as a translator.According to Putin’s biographer Masha Gessen
, “Putin and his colleagues were reduced mainly to collecting press clippings, thus contributing to the mountains of useless information produced by the KGB.”
According to Putin’s official biography, during the fall of the Berlin Wall
that began on 9 November 1989, he burned KGB files to prevent demonstrators from obtaining them.
After the collapse of the Communist East German government, Putin returned to Saint Petersburg, where in June 1991, he worked with the International Affairs section of Saint Petersburg State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov. There, he looked for new KGB recruits, watched the student body, and renewed his friendship with his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, the Mayor of Saint Petersburg.Putin resigned with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 20 August 1991,on the second day of 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Putin said: “As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on”, although he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with “the organs”. In 1999, Putin described communism as “a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization”.
Putin As a Powerful World Leader
“It’s not a documentary as much as a question and answer session,” he says. “Mr Putin is one of the most important leaders in the world and in so far as the United States has declared him an enemy – a great enemy – I think it’s very important we hear what he has to say.”
Oliver Stone is correct in this admonition. The West seems hell bent on characterizing its opponents as crazy madmen. Of course, this characterization is much easier in the press, in quick conversations and as a cliche to place one’s enemies. The dispute between Russia and Ukraine is very much in doubt in Oliver Stone’s mind. He did a documentary which purports that the United States staged a coup against the freely elected Ukrainian president.
The film, called “Ukraine on Fire,” was featured on Russia’s REN TV Monday night, the second anniversary of the Maidan protests that sparked the Ukrainian revolution.
Stone interviews Russian President Vladimir Putin and ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the documentary, which argues Yanukovych was the victim of a U.S.-inspired coup with the intent of pushing back against Russia.
“He was the legitimate president of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn’t on February 22 of this year,” said Stone in a Facebook post after his initial interview with Yanukovych in 2014. “Many witnesses, including Yanukovych and police officials, believe these foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions — with CIA fingerprints on it.”
The Crimea was conquered by Russians in 1783 and subsequently ‘given’ to the Ukraine in 1954 when Kruschev considered the Soviet Union an entity that would last forever. He could not have foreseen the breakup of the Communist Empire in 1991. But what Security Interest does the United States have in this faraway land? Yes, we can deplore human rights abuses and the violence of war – but how does it involve American citizens and policy?
Oliver Stone’s documentary asserts that Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt engineered a coup against the Ukraine’s pro-Russian President. If this is true, then how should Putin respond to an American coup on the Russia border which includes a critical Russian naval base at Sebastopol in the Black Sea?
Putin In Context
Headlines rage in the West over Putin’s alleged interference in the 2016 American Presidential Elections or roast him for the invasion of eastern Ukraine with the subsequent annexation of the Crimea.
“He talks pretty straight,” Stone says. “I think we did him the justice of putting [his comments] into a Western narrative that could explain their viewpoint in the hopes that it will prevent continued misunderstanding and a dangerous situation – on the brink of war.”
Oliver Stone discusses the blame placed by the Democratic party and its operatives against Russia and Putin for interfering in the U.S. Election.
“That’s a path that leads nowhere to my mind,” Stone says. “That’s an internal war of politics in the US in which the Democratic party has taken a suicide pact or something to blow him up; in other words, to completely de-legitimise him and in so doing blow up the US essentially.
“What they’re doing is destroying the trust that exists between people and government. It’s a very dangerous position to make accusations you cannot prove.”