Vladimir Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002)

Director Igor Shadkhan

Chief editor Natalia Zlobina

Executive producers Anna Vinogradova, Aleksandr Makushin

Length: 58 min

Where it was shown: TV Channel Russia (Russia-1 now) 07.10.2002

Personalities shown: Ludmila Putina, George and Laura Bush

Characters: Vladimir Putin, Igor Shadkhan

Film online:

Vladimir Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002). Part 1.
Vladimir Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002). Part 2.
Vladimir Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002). Part 3.

Sometimes the title of this film is translated into English as “A conversation in the Evening” (see e.g., Sakwa, R. (2007) Putin. Russia’s choice; Cameron, R. (2004) Russian Politics Under Putin).

This film is based on the first interview that filmmaker Igor Shadkhan had with Vladimir Putin in 1991. The next year, this interview was shown as a film called Power [Vlast]  (1992). Shadkhan saved all the filmed material. Eleven years later, in 2002, Shadkhan watched the first interview from 1991 with Vladimir Putin and interviewed him again asking the same questions. Shadkhan already had experience filming documentaries about the same characters after a long period of time. He has made several films about Vladimir Putin:

  • Power [Vlast´]  (1992),
  • President´s friends [Druzya presidenta] (1999),
  • Vladimir Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002),
  • President’s classmates [Odnokashniki Presidenta] (2004),
  • Your High Loneliness [Vashe Visokoodinochestvo] (2005).

The interview in the film was conducted on the principle of Test for adults [Kontrolnaya dlia vzroslyh] (1977-1992) – in which a character who sees himself on the screen in the past compares and assesses himself in the present.

This time he filmed Vladimir Putin in the kitchen of his presidential residence, Bocharov ruchei, in Sochi. Putin prepares tea for Shadkhan in a small kitchen, evoking a scene from an earlier film. In Unknown Putin. Peace and War [Neizvestny Putin. Mir I Voina] (2000), Putin’s assistant at the president’s residence in Moscow made tea for the president, mistakenly giving him a cup with lemon. Putin gives it to film director Vitaly Mansky to avoid wasting it. These gestures with tea humanize Putin and make him look very ‘svoy’ for the Russian audience.
The interview’s setting is very homey. Vladimir Putin is filmed mostly with a middle frame, wearing a blue shirt with short sleeves, sitting in this small brown kitchen. A black dog is yawning next to the table.

They talk about the same issues they talked about in 1991: GULAG, the role of history, and the state of the country. There is a great mise-en-scène: Vladimir Putin with a cup of tea stalks about the necessity of ruling a state with a firm hand; Igor Shadkhan stalks about the GULAG in his calm voice.

Evening Talk. 2002. Putin and Shadkhan sitting at the table with tea. President´s residence in Sochi. Picture 1
Evening Talk. 2002. Putin and Shadkhan sitting at the table with tea. President´s residence in Sochi. Picture 2

The conversation flows from a discussion about Sobchak and politics in Saint Petersburg to international affairs, poverty in Russia, establishing a middle class and taking care of the elderly.

In 1991 the conversation touched on the Soviet period: when Shadkhan notices that the bust of Lenin has disappeared from the shelf in Vladimir Putin’s office during filming Putin says he does not know where it has disappeared to and does not much care. He also mentions that the country has suffered too much and that it was a tragedy that in 1917 the communists divided a united Russia into republics and killed capitalism and the market.

Vladimir Putin talks about his family. This time from the angle of their role in society. He categorizes them as working-class intelligentsia [rabochaya intelligentsia]. They replay Vladimir Putin’s words about his family from 1991, that he has two daughters. In 2002 Shadkhan mentions that Putin’s daughter Masha is already 17 and Katia is 16. They continue a general conversation about young people. They do not particularly mention Vladimir Putin´s wife, Ludmila, but we can see her sitting next to Laura Bush, during the meeting between Bush and Putin at St. Petersburg University in May 2002. Shadkhan asks when Putin was last in a café with his wife, Ludmila Aleksandrovna, where they could dance. Putin answers that he does not remember. He switches the conversation to a patriotic refrain, saying he is not going to complain that he does not have a personal life; he would rather do everything for his motherland.

Shadkhan asks Putin’s comments on some of his actions since the last film. For example, when he flew a Su-27 fighter jet to Chechnya. He explained that it happened purely for security reasons. Shadkhan asks about Putin’s trips in Russia, whether they were promotional and whether everything had been prepared in advance to meet the president’s expectations. Putin equivocates. He says that he is trying to visit as much as possible when he is not on holiday.

Allegedly, after they filmed Evening talk Putin asked Shadkhan if he could do something for him, and Shadkhan asked about the amnesty for the heroine of his film I beg your pardon [O milosti proshu] (2001), sentenced to six years for inciting the murder of her abusive husband. The woman was sick, and three children were waiting for her. Moreover, the situation itself was so ambiguous that Shadkhan sided with the woman. A few days later, Putin called Shadkhan and said that a decree had been signed to pardon the heroine of his film.

Quote from the film:

For some people, no matter what they do and whatever they are occupied with, it is never enough power and money. The question is how to dispose of the funds that you have in order to achieve maximum effect. Of course, some kind of standard set of credentials is needed to implement the tasks that face this or that governing body. I think that the Russian head of state has enough such credentials.

vladimir putin


1. Karpenko, M. Filmography of Vladimir Putin. Kommersant. 2018

2. Shadkhan N. Rasskazhi pro menya, Igor!: Metod Shadkhana. 2020

3. Shulman A. Kontrlonaya dlya vzroslyh /Test for Adults. Mishpoha-A. 2007

4. Voloshina, V. Ya ne tot pridvorny hudozhnik, kotoriy kosoglazogo imperatora vidaet za yasnogo sokola. Interview with Igor Shadkhan. 2013


Leave a Comment

  1. […] This film is almost impossible to find; it has therefore become more a subject of discussion than a film to watch. Nevertheless, whenever scholars refer to early audiovisual documentation of Vladimir Putin, they mention this film, Power [Vlast]. However, excerpts from Power can be found in the later film by Igor Shadhkan Putin. Evening talk [Vladimir Putin. Vecherny razgovor] (2002). […]


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