Mikhail Morozov is a Russian patriot, good Christian and successful businessman. He owns Durakovo - the “Village of Fools” - 100 km southwest of Moscow. People come here from all over Russia to learn how to live and become 'true' Russians. When they join the Village of Fools, the new residents abandon all their former rights and agree to obey Mikhail Morozov’s strict rules. “What we have here is a society that respects the vertical of power, this is what our country needs most of all, “ says Morozov quoting his idol President Putin. The whole spectrum of power - political, spiritual and administrative – is represented in the village and people gather for semi-private meetings with Morozov. They discuss the future of Russia, their ambitions and their goals. For God, Tsar and the Fatherland shows what drives Russian patriotism today and why these citizens are against democracy.
What is wrong with democracy? - Join the debate
If you are a journalist or a human rights activist we are sure you agree that Vladimir Putin has not been good for Russia. Since Vladimir Putin came into power in 2000 journalists, activists and the political opposition have been harassed, tortured, abducted and even murdered. Yet, Putin is the most popular political leader Russia has had in decades.
Around the world and over time many leaders have been voted into power by democracies and have then turned the country into something that more closely resembles a dictatorship. How are transitions like this possible in a democracy? What is wrong with democracy?
NINO KIRTADZE holds a degree in Literature. She has worked as a consultant to the President of the Republic of Georgia and as a journalist, covered the war in Chechnya and other armed conflicts in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. She made her first documentary Les Trois Vies d’Edouard Chevardnadze (The Three Lives of Eduard Shevardnadze), which showed at the Toronto Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and the Biarritz FIPA International Festival of Television Programmes. In 2005, she made Un dragon dans les eaux pures du Caucase (The Pipeline Next Door), which was awarded Best Documentary Award by the European Film Academy.
In 1991 the Soviet Union went bankrupt, and Russia re-emerged as the largest nation-state in the world. Since then it was assumed that some sort of democratic system would take shape. Sixteen years later the state of democracy in Russia is questionable. The Soviet Union was meant to be a trans-national workers’ union without focus on nationalism. However, since the founding of the Russian Federation the government has fostered national pride as a part of its historical and present identity.
Russia was the dominant force within the Soviet Union. Before the Soviet Union Russia was ruled by the Tsar under what is referred to as Imperial Russia. In 1917 the Soviets came to power after a revolution led by Lenin. The Soviet Union was a communist country that for many years was ruled as a dictatorship. The Soviet Union did not have elections; it had a planned economy and strictly outlawed nationalistic tendencies and religion. It was one of the Allied powers that fought against Hitler during the Second World War. However, soon after the end of the war, the Soviet Union became the rival of the United States in the Cold War. In 1991 the Soviet Union went bankrupt. Since then Russia has become a constitutional federation with a functioning democracy. Meanwhile, the cultural heritage of Imperial Russia has been rediscovered and nationalism, Russian Orthodoxy and patriotism have become popular.
The Political Scene
Vladimir Putin is the elected President of Russia. He has been in power since 1999, when he took over from Boris Yeltsin. The president is the head of state. He is elected into power every four years. The president appoints the prime minister, who serves as the head of the parliament. The Russian Federation has a multiparty system. The most prominent political party in recent years is a centrist party called United Russia. It was formed in 2001 and currently holds a constitutional majority in parliament. The party is closely related to Putin, as it is backed by the president and in return supports him. Putin is known as a tough leader. During his time in power human rights have deteriorated significantly and the working conditions of political activists and journalists critical to the state have become difficult.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia has struggled to retain its position as one of the most powerful countries in the world. As in many parts of the world religion has become an integrated part of the state. After almost eight years in office in which human rights have taken a turn for the worse, Putin is as popular as ever. For God, Tsar and the Fatherland depicts the culture that explains Putin’s popularity and in the process makes us question nationalism and patriotism everywhere.
For God, Tsar and the Fatherland documents the culture promoted by federal Russia: Respect for the Russian Orthodox Church, respect for the nation and respect for the leader of the state, Putin. This culture has given order to a society marred by the instability created by the fall of the Soviet Union. However, as we look into the future, where is Russia headed? The current patriotic national fervour suppresses minorities and has supported an environment in which Putin has had ample opportunity to take control of large parts of Russian society and industry, amongst other things the Russian oligarchs and the media. As new elections approach in 2008, it looks as though Putin will win another term in office.