Press Release | On Jan. 13, FRONTLINE Investigates Vladimir Putin’s Path to Power
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, at 10 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings)
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With the Russian economy in free-fall, all eyes are on President Vladimir Putin as he tries to steer his country through yet another crisis.
On Jan. 13, in Putin’s Way, FRONTLINE (PBS) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation go behind the latest headlines to investigate the Russian leader – his remarkable ascent from unemployed spy to modern-day czar, and the persistent accusations of criminality and corruption that have accompanied that rise.
Producer Neil Docherty (Murdoch’s Scandal, On Our Watch, Al Qaeda’s New Front) and correspondent Gillian Findlay — both of the fifth estate, Canada’s premier investigative TV program – trace Putin’s career back two decades to his political start in St. Petersburg, where allegations of corruption began almost immediately.
Drawing on firsthand accounts from exiled Russian business tycoons, writers and politicians, as well as the exhaustive research of scholar and best-selling Putin’s Kleptocracy author Karen Dawisha, the film examines troubling episodes in Putin’s past, from alleged money-laundering activities and ties to organized crime, to a secret personal fortune said to be in the billions.
The film chronicles Putin’s ascent as Boris Yeltsin’s chosen successor, examines his controversial ties to former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, and revisits the horrific 1999 Moscow apartment bombings — which continue to haunt the country, with unanswered questions about the role of Russian security services and Putin’s complicity.
From a senior police officer who tried to arrest Putin on corruption charges, to an investigator who tried to investigate the apartment bombings, to former writers and documentarians hired to burnish his reputation, Putin’s Way offers key players’ accounts of some of the unsettled questions surrounding the Russian leader.
These accounts portray a Russian leader who began by professing hope and democracy but now is stoking nationalism, conflict and authoritarianism.
“Instead of seeing Russia as a democracy in the process of failing, we should see it as an authoritarian system in the process of succeeding,” Karin Dawisha tells FRONTLINE.
Putin’s Way also traces Putin’s complicated relationship with the West.
“We see a series of escalating provocations against the West going back many years … and at every stage, we try and overlook it and try to bring Mr. Putin in,” Edward Lucas of The Economist tells FRONTLINE. “We invite him to our summit meetings. We try and treat Russia as a ‘normal’ country … We’re giving Mr. Putin the impression that we’re not to be taken seriously, and he continues to push us harder and harder and harder and harder, and that’s extremely dangerous.”
Putin’s Way — a must-watch portrait of Putin’s rise and reign — airs Tuesday, January 13 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and will stream in full, for free, online at pbs.org/frontline.
Putin’s Way is a FRONTLINE production with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The producer and director is Neil Docherty. The writers are Neil Docherty and Gillian Findlay. The correspondent is Gillian Findlay. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning.
FRONTLINE, U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series, explores the issues of our times through powerful storytelling. FRONTLINE has won every major journalism and broadcasting award, including 69 Emmy Awards and 16 Peabody Awards. Visit pbs.org/frontline and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ to learn more. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.