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An Actor, A Director, A Party Congress, And YouTube

Director Fyodor Bondarchuk appearing in a shot from his 2008-09 science fiction film The Inhabited Island
Director Fyodor Bondarchuk appearing in a shot from his 2008-09 science fiction film The Inhabited Island
Some things require very little commentary.

Anybody who watched the United Russia congress last weekend, probably saw the impassioned speech by the actor Vladimir Mashkov, star of the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines, at the nationally televised plenary session on September 24, where he explained why he joined the ruling party:

They say we are going to ask for money for cinema or for theater. I am not going to ask for anything. Russia has given me everything. And I cam here to pay off the debt. This is my obligation, it is our obligation, to do everything so that our children will be happy in our country. It is our obligation to our fathers and grandfathers who gave their lives so that we can live in Russia today.


But fewer people saw a very different speech by Fyodor Bondarchuk, director of the film The 9th Company (a film about the Afghan war that is rumored to be one of Vladimir Putin's favorites) at a session a day earlier on civil society:

What kind of nonsense are we engaging in. We're doing such a great job! OK, we get it. We need to cooperate with the authorities. Yes, we understand that we need to do this. We're tired of these endless meetings. A large part of the population is ready to explode. The situation is boiling over. People are indignant. They are tired of corruption. Have you all lost your minds?

At that point, Andrei Makarov, a television personality and United Russia official who was chairing the meeting, interrupted.

"Well, that was interesting. You know I am taking notes and will need to report this," he said.

"I understand," Bondarchuk answered. "Tomorrow I already won't be here."

WATCH THE VIDEO: reported however, that Bondarchuk did in fact attend the plenary session the next day -- and the video of his rant went viral on YouTube.

I guess the moral of the story is that there is dissent even inside United Russia, and if you are the director of Putin's favorite film, you can even get away with expressing it publicly.

Oh, and another moral of the story: in the age of YouTube, even controlling all of a country's television stations does not guarantee control over information.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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