German documentary maker Eric Bergkraut’s Citizen Khodorkovsky (2015) follows the widely accessible 2011 documentary Khodorkovsky by Cyril Tuschi. Bergkraut’s sombre documentary focuses on an interview Khodorkovsky did in Bergkraut’s Zürich studio, where the Putin-critic resides in exile following his release from captivity in December 2013, prior to the Sochi Olympics.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to nine years in a POW (prisoner of war) camp in 2003, and received an additional six years in 2010. Yukos, his oil company was expropriated by the State.
Khodorkovsky’s voice from the interview carries the film, in addition to Bergkraut’s own first person voice-over. Bergkraut explains the background for the film with his initial fascination with Khodorkovsky during his 2003 trial, which led him to start a friendship with him. The focus of Bergkraut’s film switches from a running correspondence between himself and an imprisoned Khodorkovsky, and a normal day in the life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Putin’s Gulag.
Bergkraut’s second-person narration places the audience in Khodorkovsky’s position as he rises to become one of Russia’s (and the world’s) richest men, via a wish for using his wealth and power to further the civil Russian society, to his fall as Putin’s prisoner.
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