VIDEO. The day Vladimir Putin broke the omnipotence of the Russian oligarchs who put him in power

The film “Putin and the Oligarchs”, directed by Paul Moreira and broadcast on Tuesday September 19, looks back on Vladimir Putin’s accession to the Kremlin at the dawn of the 2000s.

In 1996, a new word enriched the Russian vocabulary: oligarch. This term refers to businessmen who made their fortune after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. At the time, the country broke with communism and fell into unbridled capitalism with the massive and wild privatization of public companies.

A handful of uninhibited entrepreneurs seize economic but also political power, with the approval of President Boris Yeltsin. While the latter’s re-election was threatened by a return of the communists and growing popular indignation, the oligarchs succeeded in keeping him in power for a second term. Then, at the dawn of the 2000s, they brought a certain Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin, with the hope that he would preserve their interests.

A meeting at Stalin’s dacha

The documentary Putin and the oligarchsdirected by Paul Moreira, broadcast Tuesday September 19 on France 2, looks back on the advent of these nouveau riche and the authoritarian resumption of power by Vladimir Putin, which will cause the disgrace of those who placed him at the head of Russia . Among these businessmen: Sergei Pugachev. By the late 1990s, he was one of Russia’s most influential bankers and businessmen.

“Putin, we placed him there. We told him: ‘Put down there and don’t touch anything.’ He understood it very well.”

Sergei Pugachev

in the documentary “Putin and the oligarchs”

But the former KGB agent’s docility will be short-lived. Barely a year after taking office, rumors that Vladimir Putin would like to nationalize a large part of private companies are frightening the oligarchs. Sergei Pugachev then quickly suggested to the Russian president that he organize an informal meeting at his dacha in order to reassure them.

The interview, worthy of a film scene, will finally take place in Stalin’s dacha. A way to set the tone. And the balance of power will shift during this meeting between Vladimir Putin and the most important men in the country. Until now, notes Sergei Pugachev, the oligarchs had only seen him on television, when he promised to “abut” Chechen terrorists “down to the toilet”.

“They’re like, ‘Who is he? He looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger!'”

Sergei Pugachev

in the documentary “Putin and the oligarchs”

While they thought they had put a puppet in power, who they could manipulate as they wished, the oligarchs are petrified by the character. “At that precise moment, he understood that they were pigeons, that they could pluck them the next day and that he could take everything from them by kicking them in the behind”continues Sergei Pugachev in the documentary.

From that day on, Vladimir Putin became a true godfather and forcefully took over the economic reins of the country. Some time later, the first oligarch victim of the Kremlin master will be Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested in 2003. In 2009, it will be the turn of Sergei Pugachev to be persecuted by Vladimir Putin. He will be dispossessed of his businesses, accused of tax fraud and forced into exile.

The documentary Putin and the oligarchs, directed by Paul Moreira, is broadcast Tuesday September 19 on France 2 at 9:10 p.m. and on

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