Sunday, October 1, 2023

VIDEO. The day Vladimir Putin broke the omnipotence of the Russian oligarchs who brought him to power

The film “Putin and the Oligarchs,” directed by Paul Moreira and broadcast on Tuesday, September 19, recalls Vladimir Putin’s arrival in the Kremlin in the early 2000s.

In 1996, a new word enriched the Russian vocabulary: oligarch. This term refers to the businessmen who made their fortune after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. At that time, the country broke with communism and fell into unbridled capitalism with the massive and savage privatization of public companies.

A handful of uninhibited businessmen seize economic but also political power, with the approval of President Boris Yeltsin. While the latter’s re-election was threatened by the return of the communists and growing popular outrage, the oligarchs managed to keep him in power for a second term. Then, at the dawn of the 2000s, they brought a certain Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin, hoping that he would preserve their interests.

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A meeting at Stalin’s dacha

The documentary Putin and the oligarchsdirected by Paul Moreira, broadcast on Tuesday, September 19 on France 2, recalls the arrival of these new rich people and the authoritarian resumption of power by Vladimir Putin, which will cause the disgrace of those who placed him at the head of Russia. Among these businessmen: Sergei Pugachev. In the late 1990s, he was one of Russia’s most influential bankers and businessmen.

“Putin, we put him there. We told him, ‘Go down there and don’t touch anything.'” She understood it very well.”

Sergei Pougatchev

in the documentary “Putin and the Oligarchs”

But the docility of the former KGB agent will not last long. Barely a year after taking office, rumors that Vladimir Putin would like to nationalize a large part of private companies scare the oligarchs. Sergei Pugachev was quick to suggest to the Russian president that he organize an informal meeting at his dacha to reassure them.

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The interview, worthy of a cinematographic scene, will finally take place at Stalin’s dacha. A way to set the tone. And the balance of power will shift during this meeting between Vladimir Putin and the country’s most important men. Until now, Sergei Pugachev points out, the oligarchs had only seen him on television, when he promised “lean on” Chechen terrorists “to the bathroom.”

“They say, ‘Who is he? He looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger!'”

Sergei Pougatchev

in the documentary “Putin and the Oligarchs”

While they thought they had put a puppet in power that they could manipulate as they wanted, the oligarchs are petrified before that character. “At that precise moment he understood that they were pigeons, that they could be plucked the next day and that he could take everything from them by giving them a kick in the butt.”continues Sergei Pugachev in the documentary.

From that day on, Vladimir Putin became a true godfather and firmly took the economic reins of the country. Some time later, the first oligarch victim of the Kremlin’s master will be Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested in 2003. In 2009, it will be Sergei Pugachev’s turn to be persecuted by Vladimir Putin. He will be dispossessed of his business, accused of tax fraud and forced into exile.

The documentary Putin and the oligarchs, directed by Paul Moreira, airs on Tuesday, September 19 on France 2 at 9:10 p.m. and on

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