He was a brooding spy whose adventures gripped 80 million viewers every night – including President Brezhnev. But did Max Otto von Stierlitz also inspire Putin?
On 11 August 1973, a TV series was premiered throughout the Soviet Union that stopped the people in their tracks. Seventeen Moments of Spring was broadcast at 7.30pm over 12 consecutive nights, and this black-and-white second world war spy drama amassed an astonishing 50 to 80 million viewers per episode.
For the 70 minutes of each show, city streets emptied, power station output surged and crime halted. Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, apparently changed the time of Central Committee meetings in order to catch every episode, so addicted was he to this slow-burning tale of a Soviet spy who infiltrates the Nazis in order to foil Operation Sunrise. That was the name given to the real-life secret negotiations between German and American intelligence, which aimed to forge a separate peace in the dying months of the war.
Eighteen years on, there can be few Russians who still think of Putin as Stierlitz
Link : Russia’s answer to James Bond: did he trigger Putin’s rise to power?