The Great Debate
“Leviathan” is due to become one of the most celebrated Russian films in the West in decades, yet it may be banned in Russia. The film, which was the first from the country to win a Golden Globe since “War and Peace” in 1968, has also been nominated for an Oscar. But in Russia, the film has provoked a host of polarized reactions.
When Gallup issued its annual poll of the men Americans most admired in 2014, it featured two improbable names at No. 10: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All things considered, 2014 wasn’t a terribly good year for either.
In Russia, August is commonly believed to be the month of bad surprises, when planes fall out of the sky and economic crises begin. But from the point of the view of the Kremlin, the last days of December are preferable for shock announcements. On Christmas Day 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the first and last president of the Soviet Union; eight years later, on New Year’s Eve, Boris Yeltsin handed over the Russian presidency to an unknown former secret police chief named Vladimir Putin.