Perhaps it can be put down to the presence of cameras (in Trilogy I) but that was one awkward meeting between Solzhenitsyn and Putin – the former later said he gained nothing from meeting various Russian presidents after his return to the country from Vermont. Whilst Putin is obviously one of those with whom he conversed, it would seem Solzhenitsyn’s criticism is especially aimed at Boris Yeltsin, the president who in his opinion allowed Russia’s hard-won but fleeting democracy to be converted into an Oligarchical state – power and wealth in the hands of the very few. Whilst such a political climate bears few hallmarks of Communism’s iron grip on the populace, there are nevertheless comparisons to be made. Oligarchy again places a country’s resources and political influence out of reach to all but the best connected and wealthiest in society, eroding any last real trace of democracy which Russian society experienced for all too brief a period in the early 90’s.

Catering to the whims of today’s leadership is still very much en vogue; to be favoured by the political elite is still something aspired by those nervously looking over their shoulders should the president’s thumb instead be turned downwards(the fate of several high-profile oligarchs has been well–publicized). What, therefore, has really changed?

Trilogy II – courtesy of the Solzhenitsyn Centre – via YouTube