Masha Karp reviews "Putin, Russia & the West"

posted 30 Jan 2012, 04:40 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Feb 2012, 01:59 ]
Unequal Sides of the Triangle 

by Masha Karp

On 19 January 2012 BBC2 began screening a four-part documentary, “Putin, Russia and the West” (Series Producer - Norma Percy, Series Director - Paul Mitchell, Executive Producer – Brian Lapping, BBC Executive Producer – Fiona Campbell). The film has already caused a great deal of controversy (see, for example, comments by Vladimir Bukovsky and Masha Slonim [in Russian], and Victor Davidoff [in English]).

Masha Karp reviews the first part of the documentary for Rights and Russia (her reviews of the subsequent parts of the documentary can be read here: Part 2Part 3, Part 4

Imagine Colonel Gaddafi is still alive. Imagine he announces he will rule Libya for another 40 years, setting off street protests demanding his resignation. Imagine, then, that at this point, just as a new stage in his rule is about to begin, the BBC brings out a documentary “Gaddafi, Libya and the West”, where apart from westerners we see only Gaddafi himself, his leading politicians and people working for his propaganda unit. No Libyan opposition leaders (apart from those who used to occupy top posts in the government), no journalists, no ordinary people. The greater part of all the major atrocities of the regime is omitted, and as far as the West is concerned the narrative generally follows the official Libyan line: “Don’t interfere with our internal affairs!” Do you think the BBC viewer will be getting an objective picture of the situation in Libya? 

As the Russian saying goes: every comparison is lame. But what the BBC is showing us in the four-part documentary “Putin, Russia and the West” is very similar to the scenario described above. There is not much of the real Russia there: the film concentrates on Putin’s concept of the West and (partly) the West’s concept of Putin. A rather important part of the triangle – Russia! - is all but missing. And all this in a brilliantly crafted documentary made by the team deservedly famous for making “The Second Russian Revolution” and “The Death of Yugoslavia”. [Read more]