Director's directives

Nikita Mikhalkov playing Czar Alexander III in his 1998 movie The Barber of Siberia
Nikita Mikhalkov goes beyond directing actors and cameras. He’s sent a 63-page political manifesto to the Kremlin.

The director was never shy to share his views with the world.

His movies are more than just a story told in a creative way – they are more like cinematographic sermons that leave few viewers guessing the moral. But now it seems Russia's most acclaimed director is ready to test his talent in real life, with his script being a 63-page political manifesto.

In glow of the sun

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Mikhalkov learned from an early age, to combine what seems incompatible. His family ancestry can be traced to dukes and princesses, yet they enjoyed a pretty cozy relationship with the communist party's leadership. His father authored lyrics for both Soviet and Russian national anthems, trumpeting the country's sacredness, greatness and uniqueness.

Mikhalkov Junior said he wholeheartedly believes that Russia is sacred, great and unique – so much so that conventional forms of government would not fit it.

Mikhalkov's most famous production to date, "Burnt by the Sun", earned him numerous honors, including an Oscar and the Grand Prize at Cannes, for his poignant portrayal of the paranoid atmosphere of Joseph Stalin's Great Terror. Yet, he remains an outspoken supporter of the iron fist as a model for ruling, rather than governing Russia.

A strong supporter of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Mikhalkov co-authored an open letter asking Putin not to step down after the expiry of his presidential term in 2008, even though that would have violated the Constitution.

Down with liberal democracy

A year in the making, the manifesto calls on Russia to put an end to its fascination with liberal democracy, choosing instead so-called enlightened conservatism as its ideology.

“The current social order is a volatile mixture of West-oriented liberal modernization, arbitrariness of local bureaucrats and pervasive corruption. It's not good enough for most Russians. Behind the facade of economic reforms and liberal institutions hide traditional, archaic social relationship,” wrote Mikhalkov in an apparent reference to the modernization campaign proclaimed by President Dmitry Medvedev to be one of his top priorities. Mikhalkov also pointed out that Russia needs new leaders capable of “seeing and hearing their people.”

“People are tired of declarations on political independence. They are tired to hear calls for individual freedoms. They don't believe in fairy-tales about wonders of market economy. The euphoria over liberal democracy is over! It's time to get down to work!”

Mikhalkov's recipe for taking Russia forward includes further strengthening the role of the state and nurturing people's trust in the government.

“But first and foremost we have to start believing in our Russia, strengthen the spirit of our nation and to recreate the positive image of our country around the world.”

Enlightened conservatism

While calling for a stronger state, Mikhalkov also identified civil society as one of the engines of the country's growth.

“We are convinced that only a fair combination of freedom and power based on the unity of TRUTH and LAW can provide for a normal human life – without revolutions and counter-revolutions.”

It is this unity of truth and law that, according to Mikhalkov, lay the foundation of the new ideology he termed “enlightened conservatism.”

“This is a philosophy of growth and stability. The philosophy of consolidation. The philosophy of bringing together mature and responsible social forces and creative energies.”

Mikhalkov said that people voting for conservatives hold law and order as their top values. They share pride in their country and demand respect of their human rights.

“The electoral base of Russian conservatives embraces all healthy elements of our society. Its heart is Russia's budding middle class. That is the good-willed and responsible, law-abiding, entrepreneurial, though not necessarily wealthy citizens.”

For Mikhalkov, to be a conservative means “to love God and people, to honor ancestors and care for descendants and to protect the environment as if it were a living being.”

One nation under God

Mikhalkov is known for his at times extreme Russian nationalist views and they fully revealed themselves in his manifesto. He holds that “the unique Russian nation” is a product of centuries-long coexistence of various peoples and tribes that came about “by God's will”.

“We have a special, supranational, imperial mentality that defines our being in the Eurasian system of coordinates. The rhythm of our development and the territory of our responsibility are measured by continental standards… Failure to understand Russia's role and place in the world is dangerous at the very least. At most, it could be fatal because it can lead to the death of the Orthodox civilization, to the disappearance of the Russian nation and to the dismemberment of the Russian state.”

Time of essence

While Mikhalkov has long been politically active, he never ran for office. In 2000, he was rumored to nominate his candidacy for presidency but it never came about. His manifesto looks very much like a political platform for the 2012 presidential election, but it remains to be seen whether he'd choose to compete for the lead role or play a more customary part of director.

Oksana Boyko, RT