To appreciate the deceptive technique of Putin-era propaganda, try watching 12, Nikita Mikhalkov’s remake of the classic jury drama Twelve Angry Men, in which the accused becomes a Chechen refugee. The film portrays many of contemporary Russia’s vices – racism, drunkenness, recklessness, vulgarity – so scathingly that it feels honest. But this is truth as camouflage for falsity. In what it says about its core themes – the justice system and the Chechen wars, two of the most neuralgic issues for Russia’s rulers – the film is a lie.
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