Russian notables join 'snow revolution'
MOSCOW — Russian film and television personalities are flocking to the country’s evolving “snow revolution” — a growing group of citizens demanding fair elections in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s recent disputed presidential victory at the polls.Film director and television personality Yuli Gusman was joined by TV anchor Vladimir Pozner and presenter Nikolai Svanidze at the founding April 6 of an anti-Kremlin committee set up by former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who is still considered an ally of Putin. The trio — all of whom have careers and influence stretching back to the late Soviet period — were among the 37-strong backers for Kudrin’s Committee of Civic Initiatives, a body designed to be an unaffiliated conduit for criticism of Putin, who is due to be inaugurated for a third presidential term on May 7. With the formation of the committee, Russia’s winter of discontent, which witnessed mass anti-Putin rallies in subzero temperatures in Moscow and other cities between the time of parliamentary elections December and the presidential poll in March, has begun to shift focus. The energy and anger of the rallies of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people sporting the white ribbons that have become the revolution’s symbol, has shifted gears, as intellectuals and activists join forces to find ways to build a viable alternative to what many see is a government steeped in corruption and bureaucracy, and poisoned by the personality cult that has developed around — and been encouraged by — Putin. Gusman’s directing credits include “Don’t Be Afraid, I’m With You” and “The Soviet Period Park.” He founded the national Nika film awards in 1987 and is the former head of Moscow’s Dom Kino cinema center, a popular venue for film biz events here. Svanidze and Pozner are noted for their liberal politics. Those in the film community haven’t all opposed Putin: Stanislav Govorukhin, a contemporary of Gusman’s, acted as Putin’s campaign manager in the presidential race. Opposing political sentiments spilled over onto the stage earlier this month at the 25th Nika awards in Moscow, when host, the socialite and opposition supporter Ksenia Sobchak, prompted boos from the audience after she criticized actress Chulpan Khamatova for appearing in a campaign video supporting Putin. Co-host actor/theater director Yevgeny Mironov labeled those who judged Khamatova “bastards.” Russian media suggested that Khamatova, who runs a charity helping sick Russian children, had been forced to appear in the video or face the closure of her venture, which enjoys strong support from state-backed companies. Khamatova refused to comment, telling Sobchak: “Let’s not discuss this; it is a celebration of cinema.”