Exclusive: The U.S. political/media demonization of Russia’s Putin is unrelenting, but an interview series with director Oliver Stone poses tough questions to Putin while also letting Americans see the real person, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Before we stumble into a nuclear war and end life on the planet, the American people might want to watch Oliver Stone’s four-part series of interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “Showtime.” Stone accomplishes what Western journalists should do but don’t, by penetrating deeply into the personality of this historic figure.
Typically these days, American TV news personalities use interviews with a demonized foreign leader, like Putin, to demonstrate their own “toughness” on air, hurling insulting questions at the target and pretending that this preening behavior proves their courage.
In reality, it is bad journalism for a wide variety of reasons: The interview subject will normally retreat into canned talking points, so nothing is really learned; the TV viewer will get to see some theatrics but no insights into what makes the foreign leader tick; and – most importantly – chances of going to war with the despised leader’s country increase.
Yet, it’s not all bad: the “confrontation” will boost the career prospects of the self-aggrandizing “journalist” who will add the highlights of the insult-fest to his or her video résumé.
Stone does something quite different and, in today’s modern world, quite remarkable. As you go deeper into the four segments of “The Putin Interviews,” you begin to realize that Stone, the award-winning movie director, is using his directorial skills to peel back the layers of self-consciousness that can inhibit an actor from reaching his or her full potential, but, in this case, Stone is using those same techniques to get Putin to reveal more of his true self.
By coming across as unthreatening and personable – almost like the TV detective Columbo – Stone strips away many of Putin’s defenses, creating a dynamic in which the Russian president struggles between his characteristic cautiousness and a willingness to be more candid.
Putin seems to like Stone while sensing that Stone is playing him. In one of the early interviews, in July 2015, Stone asks Putin about the “ambiguity” of Josef Stalin’s legacy, obviously a sensitive and complex question for a Russian who may admire Stalin’s determination during World War II but abhor Stalin’s excesses in annihilating political enemies.
“I think you are a cunning person,” Putin tells Stone.
Stone Directs Putin
At the start of a late interview in February 2017, Stone even acts like a director, dispatching Putin down a hallway so his entrance can be more dramatically filmed. “Pretend we haven’t seen each other in months,” Stone tells Putin.
After Putin has retreated down the hallway, Stone yells, “Action! Action!” but when nothing happens, he tells the official interpreter, “Tell him ‘action’ in Russian.”
Then, after more delay, Stone seeks out his assistant director: “Where’s my A.D.? Come on! Where’s my A.D.?” before worrying that maybe Putin “went into another meeting.”
But Putin finally strolls down the hallway, carrying two cups of coffee, offering one to Stone in English, “Coffee, sir?”
Yet, perhaps the climatic scene in this tension between “director” and “actor” comes at the end of the four-part series when Putin seems to recognize that Stone may have gotten the better of him in this friendly competition spread out in conversations from July 2015 to February 2017.
After finishing what was meant to be the last interview (though a later one was tacked on), Putin turns to Stone and voices concern for the risks that the director is taking by undertaking this series of interviews which Putin knows – because the interviews are not openly antagonistic to Putin – will draw a hostile reaction from the mainstream U.S. media.
At that moment, the roles get reversed. Putin, the wary subject of Stone’s interviews, is being solicitous of Stone, throwing the director off-balance.
“Thank you for your time and your questions,” Putin tells Stone. “Thank you for being so thorough.” Putin then adds: “Have you ever been beaten?”
Caught off guard, Stone replies: “Beaten? Oh, yes.”
Putin: “So it’s not going to be something new, because you are going to suffer for what you are doing.”
Stone: “Oh, sure, yeah. I know but it’s worth it if it brings some more peace and cautiousness to the world.”
Putin: “Thank you.”
What the savvy Putin understands is that Stone will face recriminations in the United States for treating the Russian president with any degree of respect and empathy.
In modern America – the so-called “land of the free, home of the brave” – a new media paradigm has taken hold, in which only the official U.S. side of a story can be told; any suggestion that there might be another side of the Russia story, for instance, makes you a “Putin apologist,” a “Moscow stooge” or a disseminator of “propaganda” and “fake news.”
And Putin was not mistaken. The early mainstream media’s reaction to Stone’s interview series has concentrated on attacking Stone for not being tougher on Putin, just as Putin expected.
For instance, The New York Times headlines its review in its print editions, “Letting Vladimir Putin Talk, Unchallenged,” and begins with a swipe at Stone for his “well-established revisionist views on American history and institutions.” Stone is also mocked for questioning the current elite groupthink that Russia helped make “Donald J. Trump president of the United States.”
The Washington Post column by Ann Hornaday was even snarkier, entitled in print editions: “Stone drops cred to give a Russian bear hug.” Although only seeing the first two segments of the four-part series, Hornaday clearly wanted Stone to perform one of those self-righteous confrontations, like all the “star journalists” do, beating their breasts and repeating the usual litany of unsubstantiated charges against Putin that pervade the major U.S. media.
Hornaday writes: “But what might have once promised to be an explosive on-screen matching-of-wits instead arrives just in time to be colossally irrelevant: an erstwhile scoop made instantly negligible by the breaking news it’s been engulfed by, and the imaginative and ideological limits of its director.”
The truth, however, is that Stone asks pretty much all the tough questions that one would pose to Putin and succeeds in drawing Putin out from his protective shell. In so doing, Stone sheds more light on the potentially existential conflict between the two nuclear-armed superpowers than anything else that I have seen.
While the series makes some genuine news, it also allows Putin to explain his thinking regarding some of the key controversies that have stoked the New Cold War, including his reaction to the Ukraine crisis. While Putin has offered these explanations before, they will be news to many Americans because Putin’s side of the story has been essentially blacked out by the major U.S. newspapers and networks.
A Vulnerable Character
Personally, I came away from watching “The Putin Interviews” both more and less impressed with the Russian leader. What I saw was a more vulnerable personality than I had expected, but I was impressed by Putin’s grasp of global issues, including a sophisticated understanding of American power.
Putin surely does not appear to be the diabolical monster that current American propaganda presents, which may be the greatest accomplishment of Stone’s series, revealing Putin as a multi-dimensional and complex figure. You may go into the series expecting a cartoonish villain, but that is not what you’ll find.
Putin comes across as a politician and bureaucrat who found himself, somewhat unwittingly and unwillingly, thrust into a historical role at an extraordinarily challenging time for Russia.
In the 1990s, Russians were reeling from the devastating impact of U.S.-prescribed economic “shock therapy” after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The nation’s riches were sold off to well-connected thieves who became known as the “oligarchs,” overnight billionaires who used their riches to gain control of the political and media levers of power. Meanwhile, average Russians fell into poverty and saw their life expectancy drop at unparalleled rates for a country not at war.
Boris Yeltsin, the Russian Federation’s first president and a corrupt drunkard who was kept in power by American manipulation of the 1996 Russian election, picked Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer and security bureaucrat, to be his prime minister in August 1999.
To Stone, Putin explains his hesitancy to accept the promotion: “When Yeltsin offered me the job for the first time, I refused. … He invited me into his office and told me he wanted to appoint me Prime Minister, and that he wanted me to run for President. I told him that was a great responsibility, and that meant I would have to change my life, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. …
“It’s one thing when you are a bureaucrat, even a high-level one, you can almost live an ordinary life. You can see your friends, go to the cinema and the theater, and not assume personal responsibility for the fate of millions of people and for everything that is going on in the country. And to assume responsibility for Russia back then was a very difficult thing to do.”
Putin continues: “Frankly speaking, I didn’t know what President Yeltsin’s final plans were with regard to me. And I didn’t know how long I would be there. Because at any moment the President could tell me, ‘You are fired.’ And there was only one thing I was thinking about, ‘Where to hide my children?’ …
“Just imagine, if I were dismissed, I didn’t have any bodyguards. Nothing. And what would I do? How would I live? How would I secure my family? And back then I decided if that was my fate, then I had to go to the end. And I didn’t know beforehand that I would become President. There were no guarantees of that.”
However, at the dawn of the new Millennium, Yeltsin surprisingly announced his resignation, making Putin his heir apparent. It was a time of extraordinary crisis for Russia and Russians.
When Stone compares the challenges that President Ronald Reagan faced in the 1980s to those that Putin confronted when he took power in 2000, Putin replied, with classic Russia whimsy, “Almost being broke and actually being broke are two entirely different things.”
Once assuming office, however, Putin set about reining in many of the oligarchs and rebuilding the Russian economy and social safety net. His success in achieving an economic turnaround and a marked improvement in the social metrics explain much of his enduring popularity with the Russian people.
But Putin does not come off as a natural politician. When you see Putin up close for the several hours of these interviews, you can’t miss his unease in the spotlight, a tight control, even a shyness. Yet, there is a winning quality from that vulnerability which seems to have further endeared him to the Russian people.
Compared to many Western politicians, Putin also has retained a common touch. One scene shows Stone interviewing Putin as the Russian president drives his own car, something you would never see an American president doing.
Putin also takes Stone along for a hockey match in which the now 64-year-old Putin dons a uniform and laces up skates for a wobbly performance on the ice. By his own admission, he just began skating a few years earlier and he takes a couple of falls or stumbles. Putin doesn’t come across as the all-powerful autocrat of U.S. propaganda.
At the end of part two of “The Putin Interviews,” Stone even gets Putin to watch Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Cold War classic “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a very dark comedy about the U.S. and the Soviet Union bumbling into a nuclear conflagration, a film that Putin hadn’t seen before.
After watching the movie with Stone, Putin reflects on its enduring message. “The thing is that since that time little has changed,” Putin says. “The only difference is that the modern weapon systems have become more sophisticated, more complex. But this idea of retaliatory weapons, and the inability to control such weapon systems still hold true to this day. It has become even more difficult, more dangerous.”
Stone then gives Putin the movie’s DVD case, which Putin carries into an adjoining office before realizing that it is empty. He reemerges, holding the empty case with the quip, “Typical American gift.” An aide then rushes up to hand him the DVD.
[More about the substance of “The Putin Interviews” to come.]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The best review I have read of these interviews. By treating Putin as another human being, Stone was able to reveal much more about the man than any antagonistic interviewer ever could. Australians are less exposed to nationalistic propaganda than Americans and we are more willing to listen and to give someone a fair go.
Stone let Putin speak for himself and we now need to examine what he says in line with independent, rather than politically biased, “facts”
Putin has a multitude of reasons to distrust NATO and the West based on past broken promises. Let the West judge its own behaviour on the same terms that it judges Putin’s.
For me, these interviews revealed a man dedicated to Russia, incredibly hard working, extremely knowledgeable about the west and its history, and even more aware of Russian economic and political realities. He has made Russia a stronger richer State in so many ways. I was impressed with what came across as, what we call in the West, his EQ. One can not however underestimate what methods he would resort to anytime he felt Russia was threatened. Russia’s welfare Is his raison d’être.
I greatly appreciate Stone’s courage and sensitivity in giving us the opportunity to see President Putin at close range, at work and at play. I’ve long been intrigued by Russian history, music, and literature, and felt it has too often been treated as somehow second-class and as one to blame for our own shortcomings.
I am jumping in here a little late, but somewhere in Stone’s interview it seems that Putin stated that the oligarchs weren’t a problem. Does anyone remember that? I read recently that oligarchs have been putting their money to work in Russia for certain necessary projects, such as an agricultural drip-system, and a project for St. Petersburg, out on the Gulf of Finland, that prevents period flooding of that city. Dam information is below.
I am so impressed with president putins intelligence and a good grasp of world view.
I wish all the American people to read this article ad reflect.
TC, cite your references to Putin’s killings, otherwise you’re just parroting the Western party line. Chechnya has been a hotbed of warlords and terrorists and Politskaya was investigating that. As in the US with many investigations, the Russian investigation could not prove guilt of anyone. Litvinenko was involved with corrupt oligarchs. Unless you have the actual proof, you are just an apologist for Western propaganda, and if you do have the proof, why don’t you do something about it? Do you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered JFK? Or that James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King?
This is the PR Flynn Stone op. Poor Russia and the tyrants hell in Syria. The wall plan is going as well as the silence of the press Bannon Leninist world takeover. Pass out the revolvers with the single bullet. Keep it softly like the song says. Our side is winning.
I’m sure it’s an interesting series and I’ve liked all of Stone’s work, up to and including Untold History of the US. But giving Putin any sort of soft-focus or even somewhat respectful coverage makes Stone into the sort of lapdogs that FOX was for W or is for Trump. Putin has killed journalists like Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya. He suppresses elections and he also annexes countries or regions on his whim – something that Mr. Parry and others rightly criticize. Mr. Parry suggests that Stone played Putin, but Putin is the one who is being humanized on a major cable network when in fact he is and has been a undemocratic leader for some time.
I have always found that the best antidote to Washington propaganda is finding something that overturns the cartoon villainism that almost always characterizes those narratives. Whenever the propagandists decide to pile another clownish layer onto their story of Putin, I just google ‘Putin and the puppy’ to get reminded of the time (around 2010) the Prime Minister of Bulgaria gave a giant puppy to Putin for Christmas. He did Putin a big favour by forcing him out of that cool shell of his, as he was clearly delighted to receive that puppy.
It even works with left-wing propaganda, as I’m reminded every Wednesday night when PBS Nova announces that Robert Koch is one of the program’s major underwriters. It puts into perspective the image of him as a wealthy, scary right-wing activist.
I’ve watched both parts and intend to watch the rest. Fascinating look at the Russian leader. He appears both strong and intelligent but cautious as well. I feel his love for the Russian people and their history. I also noticed his referral to the future on several occasions, which is missing from most of our politician’s speeches. He seems to have serious concerns for the future of humanity.
Stone deserves kudos for this effort.
Mr Stone, you are indeed a brilliant and great man! I’d like to add a question and comment here, why does a “Putin” even exist on the political scene? To answer it, an old phrase “opposites attract” immediately comes to mind. The reason for Western Occident antagonisms (USA in particular) to partnering with Russia is both legendary and historical. Our two nations share the same cardinal sin; our western leaders murdered JFK and his family (father, brother, son; by political extension, Huey Pierce Long, Senator Paul Wellstone and his family. Our Russian counterparts killed the Romanov’s and Czar Nicholas. JFK, despite his “Republican tendencies” and desire to aggressively promote 007 missions, never the less, would have initiated a platform for social democracy in the US and thus greatly reduce a military presence through out the world. It’s almost axiomatic that the Czar, had he not been assassinated, would have created some semblance of a social democracy program as well. Obviously, Russia and the US are NOT polar opposites, thus we are repelled, and not attracted, to each other (again) due to the same remorseless, grave sin-murdering our “kings”
Excellent work. Fortunately there are highly competent newsmen, who look for the truth and help to keep the world at peace. Bravo Mr Stone!
I already left a reply which has desapeared. Cannot trust a fucken Western media (moreover American shit)
Sometimes if you put in a link it will go to moderation. I don’t know the rationality for it, but I have one in moderation now on another comment thread. If the comment is removed, you can still often get your point across by referencing other articles and how to find them without providing the actual link.
Wonderful articles on these Putin interviews, Bob. Just great.
It is sad that it is left to people like Oliver Stone (or the US basketball player in the case of N. Korea) to do the job that US politicians/ diplomats/ media should routinely be doing. Instead they bluster and puff themselves up, demanding instant obedience from the rest of humanity, and threatening half the planet with aggression and economic warfare when this is not forthcoming (40% of humanity are currently subject to US sanctions.) Leading US politicians regularly threaten to “whack” people like Assange and Snowden, talking like cheap mafia hoods, when they are not institutionalising torture. All this has brought the US is a series of disastrous wars, economic ruin, terrorism from the vile extremist groups they themselves have created, and the contempt and hatred of much of the planet. Even weak countries like Iran and Cuba tell the US to take a running jump, let alone countries like Russia and China. This can only escalate dangerously, given the deliberately contrived confrontations with Russia/ China/ Iran/ N. Korea, and Trumps recent lamentable meddling in the Gulf.
“Typical American gift.” Priceless!
Climate change continues to be the biggest story around. Putin is growing organic food because he can see what will happen in the future. China will be producing solar energy. And what will the US be doing? My guess is just building bombs.
China is also building advanced Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired plants that now produce more energy (2000MW+) and have far less footprint than a nuclear plant (1000MW+), innovative steam generation that requires far less coal to run, and whose 2014 CO2 emissions were 15-20% less than the proposed Kyoto Protocol limits for 2020. Emissions in 2014 emissions were down to 282 grams per KWH delivered, a savings of millions of tons per year.
These are the coal plants Germany is building at a merry clip to replace the nuclear plants they closed. Because solar and wind doesn’t cut it, they’ve discovered.
EVERY Russian will grow their own food if they have the land. And Putin lives 20 minutes out of Moscow with land to spare. Hungarians avoided the fate of Russian citizens in the 90s because people with even a 15 sq ft plot outside their house grew their own food. They didn’t starve.
This is an interesting development I haven’t heard before. I have also heard rumor of a new generation nuke plant that uses Thorium and is supposedly safe. Do you know anything about them, and how they compare to the modernized coal plants?
A man who has become a master of the “defensive maneuver” in political warfare, President Putin is one of the few heroes we can turn to for inspiration on a war-torn world.
Bravo to Oliver Stone for taking this task on and doing it in the manner he saw fit.
It is most unfortunate that American political and business leaders have devolved into the playground bullies and thugs that befit an out of control elementary school instead of the rising to the traits that their offices demand.
I don´t think that the Russia´s citizens give a rat´s ass what Americans think. They know that they will never find an original thought there.
When talking about world leaders the question is often asked, and in this case I will ask it in the present context of the world; who would you rather sit and have a beer with? V. Putin or D. Trump? Another point, Putin plays hockey, that makes him a heroe in my book aside from all of the other great things he has done. I wish him a long life.
Another point. When the Panama Papers were released, Putin,s name was not anywhere to be found amoung them. However he was smeared as though his was the only name in them. And the point about Putin´s wealth, that is just pure US Dept. of State manure.
So like the Russian people I remain a Vladimir Putin fan.
Thank you Mr. Parry for the succinct and objective overview of the Putin interview.
If Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin had a friendly game of chess, an arm wrestling contest, and a pistol duel, people would pay to watch.
I totally agree with you, Realist, Obama ironically ushered in the “dark ages” we are plodding through now, no pun intended. The first “black” president was such a sleight-of-hand and I imagine he was put there by the Bilderberger types just for that reason. He was assisted by Madame Warmonger Clinton, to whom he gave the compensation prize of Secretary of State. The two of them turned a few nations into rubble, quite a Nobel Prize! I believe I read that Putin took the stance he did to aid Syria once he saw the shameful state they had brought upon Libya and the wretched murder of Gaddafi.
Why is it that even in this kind of American internet site, one still sees euphemisms like “Russian oligarchs”? This Polish presidential candidate makes clear exactly what kind of “oligarchs” were involved in plundering Russia and Poland (and now Ukraine).
Russia – the biggest robbery of the twentieth century
And, mike, I get the distinct impression that Vladimir Putin does not have the insufferable arrogance of Barack Obama!
What was the magic that the old cold warrior Ronald Reagan applied that allowed Americans to accept his negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev to end Cold War I as appropriate and desirable? After years of disparaging rhetoric and even a few bad jokes, Reagan essentially turned on a dime after his first summit meeting with Gorbachev and even proposed the elimination of all nuclear weapons. (Would the Deep State have allowed that?) If Donald Trump attempted striking up a similar relationship with Vladimir Putin today, the mass media would demand both of their heads and proclaim world peace to be a crime against nature.
Unfortunately, Jessica, I do put very much of the blame on Barack Obama for methodically driving a wedge between Russia and America in spite of all the assistance Putin had given him in calming the waters in several international conflicts. Obama was clearly leading a campaign (that also included Hillary Clinton and John McCain) to progressively sour relations between the two countries. Moreover, he employed the media as a cudgel to demonize Putin to such an extent that our own President Trump, his many genuine faults aside, has been thoroughly demonized through some newly-invented arcane commutative principle for merely suggesting that peace with Russia would be a better alternative to war. Then that was conflated to alleged collusion between the two to “hack the election” and steal the presidency from Hillary. And so the long chain of ill-advised reckless events to serve the neocon agenda of world domination and a very real potential for total war with Russia continues its improbable course with no support from a clueless populace and no hindrance, not even a second look, from the Congress or the media as an insider like James Commey clearly abuses his office, leaks privileged information and plays both sides in this partisan dispute.
Mr. Obama has been a willing tool for the “haves.” There is nothing interesting about this opportunistic and weak character.
Excellent comments Realist.
You all peacelovers comments forget the main reason why Mister Putin must remain a bad boy. Supposing that Mister Trump and the Russian president make peace between the two nations a reality. How many billions of dollars this will cost the criminal bosses of that USA-NATO-EU military-industria-complex. Most US senateurs are elected with the money of that mafia. In Europe (moreover in France), all medias belong to the military industry’s bosses…On September 9th 2009, in Orenburg (Russia) I checked hands with the Russian president and exchanged a few words, translated by a lady friend journalist. He looked like a really decent man. Not like the creeps that we see in Western states. We are Lucky to have that great leader to cool down the new nazi empire which in spite of its brainwashed people America has becomed…
And so it turns out that Vladimir Putin is just a human being, pretty much like you or me after all. Not the cartoon demon that western media created. We can relax, he’s not as scary as he was made out to be. He’s actually the sort of person you could talk to, and make some sort of reasonable deal with. Makes you wonder why certain people made him out to be something he really wasn’t? Why would they do that? Sure makes you think……
“In modern America – the so-called “land of the free, home of the brave” – a new media paradigm has taken hold, in which only the official U.S. side of a story can be told; any suggestion that there might be another side of the Russia story, for instance, makes you a “Putin apologist,” a “Moscow stooge” or a disseminator of “propaganda” and “fake news.”
I just viewed the first part of the interview it was excellent, you won’t be disappointed.
Colbert is pathetic. I have never understood why he got so popular, with that snide, snarky yelling. I have been without TV for a long time, and the times I have seen him, I have thought he was totally unimpressive for that humongous salary. Same for SNL, they are lame! What passes for creativity nowadays is mediocrity.
So true. Our sense of values is so skewed and degraded now. Without the canned laughter, comedy on TV is just…….nothing.
I forced myself to watch Colbert last night because I wanted to see the Stone interview and was disgusted. This lightweight is not the least bit funny or “satirical” as he likes to be known. He is just snarky and predictable and was extremely rude and insulting to Oliver Stone. They didn’t have him on until the very end and the well-trained audience booed and laughed on cue. I respect Stone for trying to educate the American masses but I doubt if he’ll put himself in that position again and I don’t blame him!
I look at Stephen Colbert as another extension of a news media turned into a entertainment vehicle so as to distort the news rather than report the news in any objectionable manner. Where our American news dips into entertainment, Colbert comes from the other end, whereas entertainment joins up with the news to push whatever propaganda it is that they must push at that precise moment in time. Colbert is pulling on the childish nature of it’s young adult viewer. Facts get ignored by way of replacing the facts with funny caricatures of America’s adversaries, and with these lopsided portrayals all Americans are squeezed into a small vacuum of opinion of these varied world leaders. Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, it turns out Gadafi wasn’t all that bad, and Syria is not experiencing a civil world….now go tell you neighbor that, and your neighbor will just wonder to what you have been smoking.
Oliver Stone on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The coached CBS studio audience laughs on cue.
“I used to play a narcissistic conservative pundit – now I’m just a narcissist.” – Stephen Colbert
The laughing audience was undoubtedly coached. They were quiet for a good portion of the interview and then suddenly commence laughing. CBS’ coach’s timing was off at times; also, the crowd was stirred up to react at things not-so-funny.
That was a disgrace. I wont watch Colbert anymore. Our media (except for Parry and others like him) have become like cars: no more originality (original thought), they all look the same no matter what the brand, and their boring looks are claimed exceptional because the design accounts for aerodynamics. What the fuck is the point? You can’t go over 30-35 mph in the city, or 65-75 mph on the freeway.
Skip, you got it, we have to speak up and keep speaking up. Some very fine posts here, and we have to keep plowing through this bullshit. Good point about FDR, why was he so appreciated by the people, because he worked for their betterment. And that’s exactly what Putin has done and continues to do for the Russians, which is why his poll numbers are so high. Look what our US leaders have done, trying to plow us under to benefit the wealthy. This propaganda show is being put on by a failing “empire”, and these so-called “leaders” have “Putin envy”, I am convinced. In their dreams they might poll that high!
If you care about your blood pressure DON’T click on the Stephen Colbert interview with Stone. It was infuriating the way Colbert and the audience laughed at Stone whose words about Putin were not laudatory but not critical either. How those ignoramuses could chuckle when Stone had spent weeks with the man. Stone was there. With him. Talking to him. In Russia. Colbert was shameful. Sigh.
A must read, conveying that Russian President Vladimir Putin is pragmatic, cautious, thoughtful, yet personally vulnerable and not the typical slick politician. The pictures with Putin on the piano in a concert hall, with cats in his arm or stroking dogs and other animals come to mind.
Putin is not flawless. He demonstrates his masculinity, trying to compensate his small height of only 170 cm. His judo training was the perfect method to overcome his natural shortcomings, and the general idea behind judo, which is to evade and outsmart a superior enemy, clearly is the core of his political thinking.
Putin doesn’t deny climate change, but considers it as a natural phenomenon to which we have to adapt. He is surely not an environmentalist, though he is engaged in the protection of rare species.
Putin is social conservative, a proud Russian nationalist, his closeness to and collusion with the orthodox clergy (Patriarch Kirill) could make a secular person uncomfortable. His support for traditional family values didn’t hinder him to divorce from his wife Lyudmila after 31 years. 33 year old olympic champion Alina Kabaeva is rumored to be his girlfriend.
Even in the face of his undeniable flaws, one just has to admire his absolute brilliance, his realism and superb strategic thinking. Unlike many of his fellow world leaders, Putin is not a gambler and he knows his limits. He is one of the most mature and rational actors on the word stage and history will treat him kindly, he will, unlike Churchill, not even have to write it personally.
Thank you Wolf Mato for your response.
I’ll jump in here to thank Robert Parry, Oliver Stone, and Vladimir Putin for this brilliant round of events that all add up to speaking truth to power.
Wolf Mato, I agree completely with your evaluation of President Putin. In all; this has been a truly positive experience of media mixing for me… Many thanks to each of you!
I second that. I have read so many good comments here that I find it impossible to add anything. I look forward to seeing the interviews.
Thank you all for such thoughtful comments.
How do you know, Mr. Boyce, how much wealth Vladimir Putin really has? Do you have such intimate knowledge of his bank accounts? And the people who accept “Russia is not free” business. What is freedom but a vague, glib propaganda word? Anyone who has not spent time, and really considerable time, in another country does not know anything other than secondhand information. With the anti-Rusdia propaganda being spewed about, that’s double in importance.
Americans, I think, have become very negative and pessimistic in thinking, judging from comments on many websites. There is good reason for it, we haven’t exactly been treated well by our government. But I think it’s time that we simply act in ways to let people know that we are not falling for this stupid propaganda show and pass it on like a chain letter. Sort of like the Yippies did, they made fun of government through various acts, like guerilla theater. These folks spewing this propaganda have no sense of humor, they are ripe for being mocked, and that’s “freedom of speech”.
I saw only the Megyn Kelly interview with Putin, on YouTube, the one showing what NBC cut out, and I saw and heard a leader who was genuinely concerned about his country and progress it has made. His face conveyed honest emotions to me and his words did likewise.
I have often challenged my friends’ assumptions about Putin and Assad that are solely based on MSM propaganda. I tell them please go on the internet and look up their speeches and interviews. Listen to their own words rather than the DC echo chamber, then decide for yourself. I am hopeful that this series of Putin interviews by Stone are seen by a wide audience and that it puts a major crack in the MSM narrative. I am actually amazed that Showtime is airing them. Finally a glimmer of hope in these insane times.
Luckily for Humanity, Mister Putin stopped the unchallenged American hegemony and soon the capitalism’ sytem will crumble. The decent people of the USA (first victim of that new Nazi Empire) should understand what is going on and make for their own country that necessary clean-up. Otherwise the crazy deciders could prefer becoming kamikazes and use the 20000 nuclear bombs at their disposal which will mean the end of mankind…
Giving interviews to anyone in the media is a mistake and Stone is very much part of the media. I just don’t understand why a man like Putin would ever grant an interview on a one to one basis with anyone. He must know he’s going to be shafted. As for the interview with that awful woman, what was he thinking about.
john, you have a point. However, Putin did the right thing. He had no choice. What has been drilled into the minds of “democracy and freedom loving” Americans, since 2007 Munich Security Conference is that there is a Russian Monster Putin out there, who has enslaved his own people, is moving towards Europe, and after that coming over here to conquer the “The Good and Mighty America”. Remember Congress Woman Maxine Waters in Feb, 2017 press Conference, and John McCain at it 24/7. Agreed, Putin is not a natural politician, not a seasoned liar like our own Politicians here. But he is very well informed and has matured into a Statesman – which he is – and does convey his message to the right audience.
I watched his first interview with Stone. On the whole the interview was good. At some moments, he did show a bit of anger inside; who would not with the actions of U.S. in regard to Russia since 1991. The interview with that awful woman you mentioned; the worldwide audience at Saint Petersburg Forum was very sophisticated. It showed the absurdity of it all – what America has been doing for a year with this Russia Gate chorus.
I wish, we change the direction of our Foreign Policy .
I predict boredom for the vast majority of U.S. populace that do view; Also predict a vast number within US will not attempt to view and lastly predict a vast majority of US will want Stone stoned for treason .
It is not just a few, politicos, war profiteers, promotion climbing military, civilian owners and employees of Mercenary groups,or the suit and tie techies that work for Intel in nice offices of DC or college campus, and of course the over 80 millions of “GOD IS ON OUR SIDE NATIONALIST FLAG WAVERS, now add in the female boobs for bombs trying to grow a set in a mans world, damn; that is a majority of populace, who like and need war for their identity and paychecks.
At around 80% of Revolutionary War citizenry didn’ care to fight or wanted Brits to win so they could get back to a normal gold digger existence, wohhmmmn about like most US sane people of today.
US regimes’ determined policy against talking to “enemies” is what CREATES enemies, but that is exactly the intention as it’s panic-time when the enemy disappears. Nothing else creates such extraordinary super profits as a reliable source of “enemies”.
The US was born developing enemies, with continuing history to this day, including invading Russia through Siberia immediately after the Russian revolution in1918, letting up our antagonisms only for brief period during WW2. Even then we plotted with Nazis to invade the USSR at wars’ end.
The orange nitwit got one thing right: “Talk to the Russians, talk to Putin”
The U.S. has been under constant assault from the regime we revolted against, militarily, politically (assassinations), economically, ideologically (control and manipulation of the press and MSM) on the behalf of all their fellow, like-minded, dynastic regimes, except one; Czarist Russia, who always favored our undertaking since Catherine the Great. They recognized that we had a common foe in the British Empire (and French Empire, and Dutch Empire, and Hapsburg Empire, etc..). They were the ONLY European power allied to Lincoln’s Federals against the Confederates, who were championed by the British and French Empires. They suffered assaults from the British, French, and Ottomans just a few years earlier in the Crimean War. They were our allies in WWI AND especially in WWII. The only time they suffered assaults from us is when the powerful and wealthy Anglophile, “American Tory” faction had the upper hand in our politics (FDR called these Wall Streeters/Ivy Leaguers “Economic Royalists” and knew EXACTLY what he was referring to). I get this info from EIR (“Return of the Monarchs”, and “Synarchy against America”) and Tarpley websites.
They also sold Alaska to us, figuring we had a better chance keeping it out of the hands of the British Empire. We worked on plans to bridge the Bering Straits as an end-run around the maritime Euro-Empires. We’ve always been allies. There will be a World Land Bridge one day there.
I recently joined a political (they call it “statecraft”) party in Australia affiliated with Lyndon Larouche. They’re really big on the idea that the British have indeed been doing what you describe, and furthermore pretty much took over after FDR through the conversion of the physical empire into a financial one. It would seem the tail wagging the dog is not the one in the sun after all. Mindboggling stuff.
Putin on NATO: “I know ho decisions are taken there.”
An honest typo on my part, but accurate nonetheless. NATO is a ho organization by every conceivable measure.
How would imputing “ho” (Ho Chi Minh?) characteristics to NATO be “accurate”?
“NATO claims that the missile shield was not built against you but against Iran”.
Putin’s response in the documentary film, “Ich, Putin – Ein Portrait”
in 2011 and 2012, German journalist and documentary filmmaker Hubert Seipel became the first Western journalist to accompany the Russian President Vladimir Putin for several months. The German public broadcast consortium ARD aired the documentary in February 2012.
Thanks, Abe. The English version of the full documentary by Seipel is viewable at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izEANd_ehak
WOW – You mean the current NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg (Norway), and his immediate predecessors, Fogh Rasmussen (Denmark) and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (Netherlands) are/were mere figurehead stooges?
Uh, sorry to be the fart at the party but Russia is not exactly a free country. Mr. Putin is extremely wealthy as a result of his controlling the oligarchs who raped Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Extremely wealthy. We need better relations w/the Russians, and I look forward to the day that the creature is no longer at the head of the U.S. government to do so.
Has it ever occurred to you that those who are completely convinced of their own freedoms may be the least free (mind control, red pill blue pill etc)? How exactly are you free Mr Boyce? You live in the most corrupt society on the planet and you throw stones at others!?
That “extremely wealthy” Putin drives his own car when not on government business, which is what only some Presidents and Prime Ministers of Nordic European countries do. Maybe driving own car was for the show, but when will he be finally enjoying his fabled filthy wealth that he accumulated according to your sources? Or maybe he already enjoys the gold/gold-plated taps in his sauna/bathroom at home/palace, just as your MSM smeared Yanukovych, the democratically elected President of Ukraine after the US neocons did a coup on him. I wonder why we never saw a single photo of a Putin’s palace.
It may come as a surprise to you, but “the dictator” Putin has above 80% approval rating among the Russians because he saved Russia from exactly the freedoms that you are talking about, practiced previously under Yeltsin.
To be a lefty and argue for the US oligarchy’s view of the world and interests, good little lefty soldier of the corrupt regime – only in America!
Thanks Kiza. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I think it wasn’t long after Mike Morell went on the Charlie Rose show and made statements of how we need to send a convert message to Putin, and then suddenly not long afterwards Putin’s chauffeur was killed in a weird car accident. I’m sure Putin grieved as much for his poor chauffeur, as he grieved for his dead ambassadors. Russia is being punished, and the American MSM isn’t covering this news in the respective manner it should be. What is amazing, is how measured and cool Putin has been through all of this, because if it were any other leader of a nation his nation would be in total lock down, and that leader would be throwing and breaking the expensive China while cursing the moon.
I always encourage my fellow Americans to start reading Putin speeches. I know that most don’t take me up on this suggestion, but that’s their loss not mine. What I get from a Putin speech is an honest broker, with a consolatory element towards his reaching out to the rest of the world. Putin with his words, is far from being the tyrant our news media, and stand up comedians, make him out to be. Although SNL can be funny. Their portrayal of Vladimir Putin is mean spirited and deliberately wrong, but then you can’t critique comedy since it’s all in fun. Which leaves me to wonder, do these clowns of comedy have any idea of what is meant by ‘first strike capability’? Do these motor mouths of laughter realize it is the U.S. threatening to use a first strike nuclear hit?
The only thing I can say to the rest of the people living on this planet, is you may need to excuse the American citizen, for the American citizen is buried under a pile of lies. This may not be a suitable excuse, but it’s the only excuse I can give you world, so please understand how garbage in is garbage out. I personally don’t think any of us Americans are any more exceptional than any other humans inhabiting this earth…. with that I will wish you to have a nice day Kiza Joe
Here’s Putin’s speech at the UN in 2015. In it he points out that the new Russian Federation has learned from the mistakes of the Soviet Union. They believe in the right for nations to determine their own form of democracy. I think he coined the term “Sovereign Democracies.” I don’t like to read politician’s speeches, but as others have noted, Putin is more of a statesman, so I decided to read this speech.
Oops, forgot the link:
Thank you very much Montanamaven I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness…Joe
Compare and contrast Putin’s 2015 U.N. speech with the one Obama gave at the same gathering. Obama can’t hold a candle to the man.
Joe, thanks.Well said. I have been defending Putin for a long time, to the consternation of everyone I know. I, too, tell people to read Putin and listen to what he says. If one does that, s/he can’t help but admire the man. People keep telling me he’s an oligarch (he’s not) when in fact he took those oligarchs to trial and imprisoned them. Ever see that happening in America? I wish we had Putin as our president instead of a brand name. Now, that statement makes people gasp and reel back in horror.
Can’t wait to see/hear the interviews. Another good article from Parry, my go-to source for information.
The U.S. surely needs it’s own Putin. I joked the other day of how Vladimir Putin should be the poster person for eating healthy organically grown food. Russia outlawed GMO’s, seriously can you see that happening here…you don’t need to answer that one. because someone might hear you…thanks for the reply Joe
“Saturday Night Live” is a big garbage can filled with shit coming out of
the minds of so-called “writers” and the mouths of so-called “comic actors”.
It’s a Neo-Liberal Identity- politics Knucklehead’s idea of “Satire”.
It’s “Sesame Street” for Children in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and on and on.
It’s “American Culture”. Sad, so sad, so very Sad.
Although I have respect for SNL’s long run, I have never really been that much of an ardent fan. Yes, on occasion I will watch it, and often I find that every other skit is funny, while some other skits leave a lot to be desired. SNL is what it is, but now a days it is being used to drill down some Deep State CIA inspired narrative, and I wonder how such creative people can be bought out so cheaply. Oh how I miss the days when an artist was often the only truthful one you could rely on.
If Putin is wealthy then he has managed to keep his noblesse oblige intact. The fact is he managed to rope in the “oligarchs”, the thieving 1%ers over there, who are probably the agents for the Synarchy Internationale, otherwise known as the trans-Atlantic community (the western empire). It is exactly what we need to do, and BTW Roosevelt came from a wealthy Establishment family, and was so beloved by the people that he was elected FOUR times to the Presidency. Having wealth doesn’t automatically make you the enemy. Despising the general welfare of the people makes you the enemy.
“Mr. Putin is extremely wealthy as a result of his controlling the oligarchs who raped Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Extremely wealthy.”
Ah, a comment from Putin’s bank manager. Although surely you’ve heard of client confidentiality? Actually, I would love to hear how you know how wealthy Putin is, and how you define ‘Extremely wealthy’. Cant remember Putin being given a $50 million advance for his memoirs, or $400,000 for a speech to a Wall St audience like a certain ex president of US. Or maybe that must makes Obama ‘moderately wealthy’ in your fact free mindset?
Love it. Great points.
Apparently there has been a good deal of speculation (advanced by political opponents in Russia and the oh-so-reliable Western media) about Putin’s net worth. Perhaps he does have a large fortune… I certainly don’t know. But clearly, he hasn’t been living a lavish life over these past 17 years. It is apparent he takes his responsibilities seriously and is an accomplished man.
If you watch the first episode wherein Putin discusses an initial reluctance to “change his life” and accept what he rightly understands as grave responsibilities (he was initially appointed acting Prime Minister by Yeltsin and faced upcoming elections with no guarantees for his family’s safety or financial security), you will understand that Putin took risks and made sacrifices that are ongoing to this day.
When I try to watch Showtime a message tells me it is not available for viewing outside the US. But from what I’ve been able to read so far I am curious to know whether Putin and Stone are communicating through an interpreter.
There are some odd choices and interpretations of words. For example Putin’s “Have you ever been beaten?” would mean to me “have you ever lost a game or contest.” From the continuation it appears that Putin meant something like: “have you ever been pilloried by people?
When Stone asks, “have you ever had a bad day?” I would interpret that as something primarily concerned with having to deal with circumstances where everything seems to go wrong. Putin seemed to take it as meaning something about his physiology, not his work-circumstances.
I would like to know what Russian translations the interpreter used, or if there was no interpreter, how Putin understood the English words used by Stone. Translations where nuanced or colloquial expressions are involved are notoriously difficult. Recall the computer translation of “out of sight, out of mind” as words that mean in the other language “invisible, insane.”
Once again, thanks to Robert Parry for a fine analysis. Key parts of a reasonable and objective analysis of events such as those leading to Russia’s acquisition of Crimea seem to have been zapped from the collective mainstream media brain, so that they simply cannot form part of any MSM narrative. They no longer exist for them, and by extension for the general public the MSM is supposed to enlighten.
I wonder whether Stone managed to counter that and similar amnesic holes. He certainly shows his smarts when he declines to say something about Trump, predicting accurately how the media would use his response.
Thank you for your insight – I have not seen the interview but if I had, I would also question the accuracy of translation…
May I suggest guys to relax a little. I understand that this set of interviews is a portrait using a broad brush, not a .05 precision ball point pen. Any mistranslations only add color to the interview. And yes, in the Putin driving the car segment which I did see, Stone is sitting in the front passenger seat and the translator is sitting in the back-seat. His translation is instant and sometimes imprecise.
Your point would be valid if this was a diplomatic negotiation about the fate of the World, where a mistranslation could start a war. Here, we just enjoy the interaction of two interesting characters, Stone and Putin.
They used a translator though Putin understands English fairly well. It is apparent by his expressions he gets the gist of questions before translation. The question “have you ever had a bad day” was referring to the context of losing his cool in a meeting. I think Putin got it…he made a joke but then referred to the need to maintain (self) control. I didn’t notice any misunderstanding. The great thing about Oliver Stone in this is his own way of being engaged and responsive to the interaction, of being in the moment and genuinely human himself.
Reading your comment about computer translations, I have this one apposite anecdote I remember reading in an early incarnation as a computer nerd in the ’80s: Translating “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” into Russian and back again gave “The vodka is good but the meat is rotten”. Regarding the interview it seemed to me that Putin asking Stone if he’s been “beaten” could be in more of a physical assault-related vein. I can imagine a lynchmob would be tooling up for him just now, metaphorically or otherwise.
Try using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to spoof being in Chicago or New York. You can find some for free online.
Much well deserved praise is due Mr. Stone for putting this splendid and adroit series of interviews together. This at a time when the groupthink has become so depraved and entrenched that otherwise decent liberal commentators are steadily falling one by one for the Russophobia — David Corn, Rachelle Maddow, Krugman, Bill Moyers, John Lewis, Mike Malloy, Robert Reich, much of commondreams.org, most of the Congressional Black Caucus, Al Franken — it all resembles something out of the classic film, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’
” Invasion of the Body Snatchers ” is the story of the History of the USA.
And So It Goes, On and On and On.
Thank you Mr Parry for a few good laughs, I thought you could only write serious things.
For the thinking US individuals the best is that they now can do a stark comparison of the Oliver Stone interview and the Megyn Kelly interview (or rather what was left of it after the usual editorial massacre), due to their proximity in time. And also Putin could experience the top and the bottom of what the US society can offer to the World.
I have not seen the Stone’s interview series, but from the comments of those who have I am most surprised by how much Putin spends thinking about the global nuclear war as an existential treat to Russia and the World. Contrast this with how many times you have heard the US leadership talk about the same topic: none, zero, nada. This leads to a conclusion that for the Western elite the nuclear weapons are just a tool for achieving and maintaining supremacy (or maintaining the purity of bodily fluids), maybe like a magic pill of strength with no side effects. In this respect, one side is more and more true to Dr Strangelove whilst the other one appears to have evolved. I really want to see Putin’s face after watching the movie.
If you haven’t seen it, why criticise someone who has?
Mike, I think you misunderstood what I wrote: I only criticized the Megyn Kelly interview of Putin which I did see.
Perhaps, you may also be missing the humor in what Mr Parry extracted out of the interview series (one example – “Typical American gift”, “Have you ever been beaten?” and so on). These are friendly jabs, not mean challenges by Putin to Stone.
Where and who was he criticising? Perhaps you need to reread…
“Typical American gift.” XD
I gotta watch these interviews.
You talk about the up against the wall grandstander of all time, and I think of Mike Wallace interviewing Ayatollah Khomeini, or his insulting tones when interviewing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I use to wonder how Wallace would have interviewed Jesus, ‘now come on sir, raising people from the dead, really?’ that would have been his style even with Jesus.
I hope this Stone interview catches on with enough viewers to possibly warm up some of the frostiness coming off of the Cold War 2.0. This stoking the winds of war with Russia, is senseless, and it can only result in a very bad ending. Somehow the American public must get some objectivity from our news.
I also must note, how Stone’s production of ‘Ukraine on Fire’ has been poorly represented in our American media, and that’s a awful shame.
The early mainstream media’s reaction to Stone’s interview series has concentrated on attacking Stone for not being tougher on Putin, just as Putin expected.
We can safely presume this will be the pattern for the rest of the “journalists” in mainstream corporate media.
Tonight’s episode certainly didn’t disappoint…am eagerly anticipating how the rest of the interviews unfold. Putin comes across as thoughtful, well-informed, genuine, and conscientious. He appears to have a fine sense of common humanity and an engaging sense of humor. I appreciate the way he applied training in judo to the discipline of living and I liked his remark about the need for “business” to be connected to social responsibility.
I have been telling my Russian friends not to promote Putin too much to the US because somebody in US may want to buy him out of Russia (like the US has been doing with the European intellectual elite for the whole of the past century). Naturally, Putin would not go to US for money, it was just a joking point.
About the human side of Putin, there is one scene which is familiar to the Russians but unfamiliar even to many followers of Russia in the West. This scene is from a church somewhere in Russia, where Putin was attending with ordinary villagers (yes, Putin does get out of rotten Moscow and into the unprivileged Russia). Somehow, during the church service a little lost boy of about 6-7 found himself in front of Putin. VV puts his hand down on the boy’s head and calms him down until the church service is over. I am sure that the enemies of Russia would see this as scripted (because they kiss babies as a rule), but to the Russians this looked as a genuine little expression of caring.
Thanks for this, Mr Parry.
I will certainly watch the entire series of interviews
Yes, thanks to Mr. Parry for a very useful introduction and overview of the Oliver Stone series, an essential counterpoint to the mass media propaganda.
Those who would like to petition the NYT to make Robert Parry their senior editor may do so here:
While Mr. Parry may prefer independence, and we all know the NYT ownership makes it unlikely, and the NYT may try to ignore it, it is instructive to them that intelligent readers know better journalism when they see it. A petition demonstrates the concerns of a far larger number of potential or lost subscribers.