At the start of Putin’s Kiss, Masha Drokova calls Russia’s then-Prime Minister “The role model for the person I’d like to share my life with, because he’s a very strong, charismatic, and intelligent man.” She knows this, she asserts, because she met him once, and felt their “spirits were kindred.” As she speaks, she looks young and enthusiastic, an ideal leader of Nashi (Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement), which she joined in 2005. But over the course of Lise Birk Pedersen’s documentary—premiering 1 July on PBS—Masha comes to see both herself and her idol differently. In part, she comes to her new insights through her work with Nashi and its decidedly self-interested founder, Vasily Yakemenko. And in part she comes to them when she meets a group of journalists, including Oleg Kashin, who introduces himself by saying, “I’m an independent journalist and I don’t support the ruling power.” The film’s tight focus on Masha’s transformation reveals how a limited view might be forced to open out, that is, gradually. In this process, both trust and distrust are hard to assert.
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