Russian film director slams modernisation in political debut

27th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Oscar-winning Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov, known for his bombastic dramas and pro-Kremlin stance, has turned to politics, writing a manifesto for a new conservative movement.

The flamboyant director, who turned 65 last week with a party reportedly attended by President Dmitry Medvedev, railed against Western values and modernisation in what he called a conservative "manifesto" published on Tuesday.

"The euphoria of liberal democracy has passed. The time has come to get down to business," he proclaimed in the lengthy text on politics website

The director condemned "liberal modernisation running after the West."

"People are tired of listening to declarations of political independence, hearing calls for individual freedom and believing fairy tales about the miracles of the market economy," he said.

The manifesto appears to openly oppose Medvedev's modernisation drive and apparently gives support for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to run for president in 2012, political experts said Wednesday

"The conservative part of Russian society is entering an election race on the side of the Putin vertical (of power)," political expert Dmitry Oreshkin told the Echo of Moscow radio station on Wednesday.

It is "one of growing attempts to start a counterattack against Medvedev's course for democratic modernisation," leading pro-Kremlin analyst Gleb Pavlovsky told the Interfax news agency.

Mikhalkov stresses his aristocratic origins, although his father, Sergei Mikhalkov, wrote the lyrics of the Soviet national anthem. His films abound in pre-Revolutionary and Orthodox Christian imagery.

In his 1998 film "Barber of Siberia," Mikhalkov played Tsar Alexander III, while his latest film, "Burnt by the Sun-2" saw one character surviving a mine explosion after she agrees to be baptised.

In 2008 Mikhalkov signed a letter casking Putin to stay on for an unconstitutional third term as president.

His manifesto refers to a conservative "party" or "movement" without elaborating.

A source close to the director told AFP that Mikhalkov "does not have the intention to create this party himself nor to head it."

"He simply expressed his ideas and will be happy if there are people who can make use of them."

Mikhalkov, who won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 1995 for "Burnt by the Sun," has flaunted loyalty to the country's leaders.

He has been shown on television drinking tea with Putin and held his latest premiere at the Kremlin.

The ruling party United Russia, published the full text of the manifesto on its website on Wednesday.

Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov earlier this month called for Putin to run for president in 2012.

"My idol, [Vladimir] Putin. I want him to be the president as long as he lives," Kadyrov, 34, said in an interview with Newsweek.

© 2010 AFP

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