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Putin Recalls Fall of Berlin Wall in New Documentary

Published: October 30, 2009 (Issue # 1522)



  • Vladimir Putin in 1985
    Photo: First Person

MOSCOW Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publicly recalled how he personally contributed to this turn in history as a Soviet spy in East Germany.

Putin told veteran NTV reporter Vladimir Kondratyev in a half-hour interview how he managed to calm down an angry crowd of East German protesters outside the KGB headquarters in Dresden in late 1989.

Putin rose from obscurity to the countrys most popular politician in 1999, serving as president from 2000 to 2008 and subsequently becoming prime minister.

Kondratyev said Wednesday that Putin had gladly recalled fond memories from his days in Cold War Germany and acknowledged the inevitability of the German Democratic Republics demise.

He was very relaxed and smiled a lot, yet he expressed a very clear opinion about the fall of the wall that what happened was bound to happen, Kondratyev told The Moscow Times.

Kondratyev would not reveal how many minutes of his upcoming documentary film Stena (The Wall) would be devoted to Putin, but he denied that the prime minister was its main theme. It is about the fall of the wall. Putin is just one of many characters who will appear, he said.

He said, however, that he would travel to Dresden later this week to shoot the introduction.

Putins interview will be aired as part of the 50-minute film at 7:25 p.m on NTV on Sunday, Nov. 8 one day before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Putin served as a KGB officer in Dresden, which was then a provincial outpost so remote that locals could not receive West German television, from 1985 to 1990. His only brush with history there occurred on Dec. 5, 1989, almost a month after the wall fell.

After storming the nearby local headquarters of the East German Secret Police, or Stasi, protesters gathered outside his office building.

Public information about Putins service in East Germany is scarce, and the only reliable account is in First Person, a series of autobiographical interviews published in 2000. Here, Putin recalled how he met the crowd personally and told them in German that this was a Soviet military organization. When people replied suspiciously that he spoke German too well, I told them I was a translator, he said.

Kondratyev said Putin gave no new account of those events, but the prime minister made it clear that he understood at the time that the Soviet-inspired division of Germany had no future.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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