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"Like many stories of Russia today, it also starts in London." It is heard in the documentary Citizen K , by Alex Gibney , which lands at the Toronto Festival (TIFF) after passing through the Venice Film Festival. Right after this enigmatic presentation, the film reviews a more or less neat list of corpses scattered on the banks of the Thames. Everyone has something in common: they were opponents of Putin's regime. And, therefore, perhaps, they fell poisoned for the most part. One of them, contrary to the Russian leader, however, is still alive. His name is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former oligarch, still a millionaire and inspirer of the Open Russia movement that aims to promote democracy in Russia. And it is there, in the city of fog, where Citizen K begins.
"The film is sent to the Moscow Festival. I hope you will select it, program it and have adequate distribution throughout Russia," says Gibney, shut up and, in the face of the obvious silence, says: "It's irony." That is the tone of the conversation and, hurrying, of the same documentary. Everything that is heard sounds extremely wild, even brutal, but it is so true that it should be made clear. "One would say that documentaries tell us what happens, but sometimes what happens is so incredible that you have to make it clear every bit: yes, everything is crazy, but true," adds the one who is not in vain can go through the most controversial and brilliant of the documentaries also he alive. This last nuance in your case is important.
To situate us, Citizen K tells the story of a man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who after having enriched himself in an obscene way thanks to the favors of a completely corrupt State, one day he decided to denounce everything. He regret. And for that reason, he was first expropriated (although he still maintains his fortune), then accused of the same fraud promoted by the State, later tried in a grotesque fiction of a rule of law and, finally, imprisoned for 10 years. After his release in 2013, he went into exile in London. A somewhat strange accusation for the 1998 murder of the mayor of a Siberian people, Vladimir Petukhov, still weighs on him and he would be arrested as soon as he set foot in the country. We speak, not to lose ourselves, of the man who became the richest in Russia , the owner of the YUKOS hydrocarbons company.
In the presentation of the tape, Khodorkovsky himself confessed to being calm , despite the precedents for the uneasiness in the already buried bodies of his fellow opponents. "The worst I think has happened. You learn that in jail. There, my life was at risk every day. They tried to stab me in the eye. But the truth is that I come from an incredibly violent country, so I grew up surrounded by blood. worse than being in jail was not knowing if one day I could get out. If I could survive it was because I was willing to play my life. I was on a hunger strike four times, "he says quietly in a working English, but of course. And so direct it almost hurts. Beside him, Gibney agrees and underlines one of the ideas of the film: "I think he left prison turned into another person. More aware of being someone than simply owning wealth." And, if only for the documentation shown in the film, we believe it.
Not in vain, few as clairvoyant in the controversy as the tireless and more than just prolific Gibney. Almost 50 films as a director and a hundred as a producer appear in his curriculum. His is Oscar for his work in Taxi on the dark side , about torture in the war in Afaganistan, and his films about the cyclist Lance Armstrong or the Scientologist sect completely changed the way of thinking and understanding both one and the other . Now, as rigorously as feverish, it contains in the structure of a thriller the entire history of recent Russia and the 20 years of power of Putin: from the awakening of the former Soviet power to the wild and beodo capitalism of Boris Yeltsin, which basically gave the country to the great energy oligarchies, to the tsarism of the new president who has managed to impose his agenda on those same powers. They benefit from all kinds of prebends in exchange for blind obedience. Otherwise, Khodorkovsky's example is sufficiently sobering for any threat of dissent.
"If I had to look for a plot in much of my work, that would be the way the truth has been losing consistency in this increasingly transparent and connected world . Lance lied, everyone knew he was lying, but nobody wanted to see him , because he imposed "his truth," which was nothing more than a lie. The same thing happens with Putin. And although it is not explicitly cited, Trump is reflected in Putin. The two act in a similar way, aware that the truth It has lost its reputation in a democracy that is increasingly in crisis: Bolsonaro, the European extreme right, Brexit in the United Kingdom, the Chinese or Turkish government itself ... Everything obeys the same perverse logic, the same discrediting of the rule of law They are phenomena of the same, "he says. And this time without irony.
Is the Putin regime possible without Putin? And now the speaker is Khodorkovsky: "It doesn't seem plausible to me. We must not lose sight of the fact that, despite the daily display of force, Putin is leading the country to ruin . The country is left without talented and valuable people, and wealth is not generated. As soon as Putin leaves, Putinism will go with him. " "Yes, but what if someone comes even worse?" Gibney says. And he continues: "Yeltsin seemed to have reached the limit ... And no." And there, for now, leave it.
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