FRONTLINE/WORLD, the interesting online video site of the popular PBS documentary series, has posted up a short clip of a Grigory Yavlinsky speech in St. Petersburg about the plans to build the Gazprom Tower, a controversial skyscraper that has conservationists and others up in arms to block it.
Here’s an excerpt from the filmmaker’s notes on her shoot in Russia:
Earlier on this anniversary day, I filmed a motley procession of government dignitaries, including Yavlinsky, members of Putin’s United Russia party, and hardline communists, as they placed flowers at the memorial to victims of the World War II blockade. The staid ceremony was being filmed for the evening news by Russia’s federally owned television channels. After the ceremony, I followed Yavlinsky and his entourage into the memorial’s underground museum. Though Yavlinsky is an official presidential candidate, none of the television crews followed him. Along with a cameraman hired by Yavlinsky’s party to document the event, I filmed alone as Yavlinsky looked at artifacts from the war and a tour guide recounted the horrors of the blockade. Hitler saw no place for the city (then called Leningrad) in his mad plan for Europe, so he commanded the Wehrmacht (Germany’s Armed Forces) “to wipe the city off the face of the earth.” No European country in the 20th century has seen more upheaval and bloodshed than Russia, nor has any endured such a long succession of dictators. Despite the hardships caused by Russia’s transition to capitalism in the early 1990s, the past two decades have been her most hopeful. But even as the economy booms, political opposition is being stifled. In the summer, Yavlinsky told me, “I know the history of my country very well, and I know what is possible. I’m happy for the freedoms we’ve had these past 20 years.” As I continue to cover an election this fall whose outcome most think is predetermined, I don’t know whether other voices in Russia will find a way to make themselves heard.