Did the Soviet James Bond Inspire Vladimir Putin’s Career Trajectory?

Max Otto von Stierlitz may have compelled future Russian president to join KGB.

May 15, 2017 10:09 am
Could Vladimir Putin Been Compelled to Join the KGB by the Soviet James Bond?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is pictured with a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia on August 3, 2009.(Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images)

In the early 1970s, Russian TV viewers had their own “Beatles on Ed Sullivan” moment—but theirs was in honor of the Soviet James Bond.

And it was a television event that may have influenced the career trajectory of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Per BBC magazine, an estimated 50-80 million viewers in 1973 tuned in to watch a 12-part film series called Seventeen Moments of Spring about a World War II spy, Max Otto von Stierlitz (a.k.a. Soviet Maxim Isaev), who infiltrates the highest ranks of the Nazis.

Unlike Bond, von Stierlitz was all work and no play, and has been tasked with breaking up secret peace negotiations between the Germans and Americans, among other things.

According to one of Seventeen Moments‘ actors, “The film showed the importance of secret agents, who are highly respected people in our country. It instilled patriotism in the post-war generation.” It made sense that there was a message here: The 12-part film was commissioned by the then-head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, as a recruitment device.

Could this must-watch film series been what got a 21-year-old Vladimir Putin interested in joining the KGB? As BBC magazine notes, Putin joined the government spy agency just two years later.

Watch Part 1 of the series below (be sure to enable English subtitles, as it is obviously in Russian).

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