The Kremlin's favorite TV pundits have taken their Putin 'sclusies to social media

12:14, 12 march 2018

Vladimir Putin’s media blitz continues. You’ve probably heard of Megyn Kelly’s “Confronting Putin” for NBC News, but Russians have also been treated to two other interview specials featuring the president: Vladimir Solovyov’s “World Order 2018,” released on March 7, and now a documentary film released by Dmitry Kiselyov on March 11, made by VGTRK journalist Andrey Kondrashov, who also serves as the press secretary for Putin’s campaign.

Solovyov and Kiselyov published these “films” on the Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, respectively, though both were produced by pro-Kremlin pundits who work for state-run television.

Last month, when the government-controlled TV network Pervyi Kanal started airing Oliver Stone’s Putin interviews, federal election officials politely indicated that this might constitute illegal assistance to the president’s re-election campaign. So the network canceled its broadcast of the final installment. Solovyov and Kiselyov apparently decided to avoid this problem by sharing their interviews online.

What did Putin say in his interview with Kondrashov?

He said Ukraine is never getting Crimea back, he blamed the August 2000 Kursk submarine disaster (one of the first scandals of his presidency) on the neglected state of Russia’s post-Soviet military, and he recalled how his helicopter came under fire in Chechnya in 2000.

Kondrashov also spoke to Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council; Defense Ministry Sergey Shoigu; and Sergey Roldugin, the cellist named in the “Panama Papers” as the man who supposedly links Putin to billions of dollars in illicit wealth.

Correction: An earlier version of this story (and the version that was included in Meduza's daily newsletter) incorrectly attributed Andrey Kondrashov's interview to Dmitry Kiselyov, and misidentified Kondrashov as the head of Putin's re-election campaign (he is, in fact, the campaign's spokesman). Meduza apologizes for the mistakes and promises to punish the editor responsible. Severely.