WEIRDLAND: Oliver Stone's Putin Interviews, St. Petersburg's private tour guides

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Oliver Stone's Putin Interviews, St. Petersburg's private tour guides

Oliver Stone (who directed the 2016 biopic Snowden) asks Vladimir Putin whether, as a former KGB agent, he was incensed with Snowden's decision to leak classified information. Putin says the U.S.' National Security Agency overstepped its bounds with its cybersecurity measures, but he doesn't believe that whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor for leaking classified documents. “Snowden is not a traitor. He didn’t betray the interests of his country, nor did he transfer any information to any other country,” Putin says in a clip from The Putin Interviews, which premiered June 12 on Showtime. Just because Snowden is not a traitor in Putin's eyes doesn't mean the Russian leader agrees with his actions. When Stone asks Putin if the NSA "went too far," Putin responds, "Yes, certainly. In that matter, Snowden was right." However, Putin explains, “If [Snowden] didn’t like anything at his work, he should have simply resigned. But he went further.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin gives Oliver Stone a tour of his offices. Parts 1-4 of The Putin Interviews available now, only on SHOWTIME. Three-time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone—the Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who made some of Hollywood’s greatest antiwar movies—was interviewed on the anniversary of D-Day at his Santa Monica office. The hallmark of Stone’s cinematic oeuvre has been artistically creating counternarratives, which has pitted him against not only government forces but also the mainstream media. Perhaps most memorable is Stone’s demolishing of the Warren Commission Report in 1991’s JFK, implicating US intelligence agents in the Kennedy assassination.


Stone is back with The Putin Interviews. As the intelligence community, Congress and press investigate alleged Russian tampering with the US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Stone dares show Vladimir Putin’s side of the story.

Oliver Stone: The Putin Interviews began in June 2015. We had just finished filming Snowden. We went to Moscow to shoot the last scene with Ed Snowden in it. We stayed for a few more days and went into the Kremlin to see Mr. Putin for our first interview. Then we did two more days on that trip, so we had several interviews. The US has always dominated the media and told its side of the story. The Russian point of view has been sarcastically presented, making fun of—it’s not a good way to do business. So what we try to do very clearly is go back in time and work forward to now. Since Putin came in, income levels have gone up. There’s still poverty problems and gaps—these were set in the ’90s. Privatization was turned around—modified. Putin believes in a capitalist, market economy—more on the European side of things than the American side. He has enacted financial reform. Memories of the Cold War have not gone away. All the older generation, the neoconservatives, always remember that and Russia as an archenemy. It’s in their blood, it’s DNA to hate them… I don’t feel it’s necessary, I believe there’s a tremendous amount of distrust, especially on the Republican side. They made this an election issue with Truman running scared [in 1948], instituting the Loyalty Act and CIA. USA is very much in the grip of a dictator: The dictator is money, the military-industrial-complex… It’s beyond absurd to have this kind of expenditure every year on military… Source: www.thenation.com


St. Petersburg is the former Russian capital whose mysterious White Nights and winding canals inspired such literary giants as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Nikolai Gogol. Constructed from scratch out of marshland in 1703 by Peter the Great, as Russia’s “Window to Europe”, St Petersburg has seen more revolution, war and political intrigue in its 350 years or so than other cities witness in a millennium. This history is apparent at every turn, from the Aurora warship that signalled the start of the Bolshevik Revolution to the many reminders of the 900-day Nazi siege of the city that left around two million dead. Another must-see is the legendary Hermitage art gallery. You can organize St. Petersburg private tours to enjoy The Mariinsky Opera & Ballet Theatre or take in the view from St. Isaac's Cathedral.


It's highly recommended to visit some of the lovely parks in St Petersburg. A favorite park is Yelagin Island, not far from the metro stops of Krestovskiy Ostrov or Staraya Derevnya on the purple line. If you are a bit more adventurous and want to head further outside of the city center, Park Sosnovka is an interesting area. At both parks, you should be able to rent bicycles or roller blades. And on Yelagin Island, you can also rent a small boat for rowing. In St. Petersburg, Russia, private tour guides can help you to maximize your vacations in the Venice of the North. Many of the 150,000 British visitors each year to Russia spend part or all of their stay in St Petersburg. The Metro in St Petersburg is second only to Moscow among Russian underground railways in its scale and grandeur. It includes the deepest underground station in the world, Admiralteiskaya, which is 282 feet below the surface. Whether you’re cruising the elegant canals, crossing one of the 342 bridges in the city, or just watching them being raised over the mighty Neva River at night to allow ships to pass through, you’re never far from water in St Petersburg, which has earned the city unsurprising comparisons to Venice. Any wander in the historic centre will reveal canals lined by Italianate mansions and broken up by striking plazas adorned with baroque and neoclassical palaces.

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