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How Putin Came to Power

How Putin Came to Power

In August 1999, Vladimir V. Putin, head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the KGB, was appointed Prime Minister. On December 31st of that year, Boris Yeltsin announced that Putin would succeed him as President of the Russian Federation. HOW PUTIN CAME TO POWER traces the stunningly rapid ascension of this political unknown to leadership of the Kremlin.

The film documents the power struggle between the country's ruling oligarchs and a behind-the-scenes political deal that elevated Putin to power. Putin initially demonstrated his value to 'The Family,' the family members and wealthy businessmen around Yeltsin-including Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, now in exile in London-by blackmailing the Russian Prosecutor General who was investigating a money-laundering scheme that would have exposed government corruption. As Prime Minister Putin, aided by a suspicious series of alleged terrorist attacks in Moscow and the launch of the Chechen War, established a 'law and order' reputation, which paved his way to election as President.

HOW PUTIN CAME TO POWER tells its story with archival footage, a clandestine blackmail video, remarkable recordings of government meetings, and interviews with many Kremlin insiders who offer firsthand testimony about these events, including Putin's campaign chief Ksenia Ponomareva, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, General Vladimir Shamanov, journalists Elena Tregubova and Vlad Rabinov, and former U.S. Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich.

'Eye-opening... An informative and engaging account of our most recent instance of succession politics, Russian style.' -Michael Urban, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics

'***-1/2 ... Well-researched... offers valuable insights... this excellent documentary suggests that more attention should be paid to Russia in general and Putin in particular. Highly recommended.' -P. Hall, Video Librarian

'Essential for understanding the dynamics of Russian politics today, and probably for a long time to come.' -Louis Menashe, Professor of Russian History and Film, Polytechnic University

'Sends a chill up one's spine.' -Libération

'Vladimir Putin is nothing more than a 'product.' A coproduction of Russian television and the 'Family' of aged president Boris Yeltsin. A robot, a marionette... In short, a horror. That's the thesis defended with brio in this documentary... It's powerful, very powerful.' -Le Monde

'Tania Rakhmanova constructs her documentary like a police investigation... A must-see!' -Telé Star

'An informative and engaging account of our most recent instance of succession politics, Russian style.' -Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics


Main credits

Rakhmanova, Tania (Director)
Rakhmanova, Tania (Screenwriter)
Mitchell, Paul M (Screenwriter)

Other credits

Editor, Joseph Peterson.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Comparative Government
Eastern Europe
History (World)
Political Science


Vladimir Putin; Putin; Russia's Federal Security Service; FSB; Soviet Union; secret police; KGB; Boris Yeltsin; Yeltsin; Russian Federation; Kremlin; The Family; wealthy businessmen; Russian Prosecutor General; Prime Minister; Chechen; terrorist attacks; Moscow; Chechen War; Chechnya; Yevgeny Primakov; Yuri Skuratov; businessman-in-exile; Boris Berezovsky; Sergei Dorenko; Boris Nemtsov; Elena Tregubova; Ksenia Ponomareva; film; video; dvd; documentary; "How Putin Came to Power"; Icarus Films