Award-winning Serbian director Emir Kusturica says he considers Russian President Vladimir Putin to be responsible for making Russians proud of their culture and history once again. He told RT why he holds the Russian leader in such high regard.
Editorial note: The initial version of the story misquoted the original words of Emir Kusturica as interviewed by RT Russian. We apologize for the errors, which have been corrected to properly cite Mr. Kusturica.
The renowned film director hailed Putin for his efforts to rebuild Russia, which he believes have re-established Moscow as a strong and independent power in the world, while instilling in its people respect for their heritage, which seemed to have been lost in the tumultuous 90s.
"What I really welcome is the position of Mr. Putin in which his gentle nature is bringing back Russia from the knees of [the] Yeltsin [era] to be standing up and to be proud of the history and mainly of the culture,” Emir Kusturica said.
The director said that he often comes under fire for not hiding his positive attitude towards the Russian leader. Even a Putin joke can cause a stir these days, Kusturica says, adding that he once drew a barrage of criticism for saying that he was willing to let Putin station missiles on his private balcony.
"The world today is so deadly serious that you can’t even joke with this,” he said, adding that when he discussed the comment about Putin’s rockets with his wife, she understood it as a joke.
"[However,] I was savagely attacked by all those who were suspicious and who believed that it is possible. So, the world is becoming really a place where good jokes from the 20th century have no place today,” he added.
The Bosnian-born filmmaker pointed to the deep cultural and social affinities between Serbia and Russia.
"If you come to the fact that historically, Tsar Nicholas II entered the WWI because of Serbia, if you see how we are getting understood by Russia [now], if you see how much the culture of two countries is mutually important to each other, how much we are deeply into the Orthodox [values].”
He added that the West has perhaps achieved its economic progress by following the exact opposite set of values. He sees it as a society where "man is to the man a wolf” [idiom: Man is a wolf to man].
In particular, he believes that the preeminence of the common good over the pursuit of individual, selfish needs is what distinguishes both Serbia and Russia from the West.
"Serbia and Russia… are much more into collective subconscious quality of life and the way that we see the history and the future,” he said.
Last year, Kusturica was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship by Putin for promoting friendship and strengthening cooperation between the people of Russia and Serbia as well as popularizing Russian language and culture abroad.