Excessive delay, intimidation, a sentence he will never forget: Gilles Bouleau recounts his “crazy” interview with Poutine

Facing Yann Barthès, journalist Gilles Bouleau remembered, on June 17, 2022, his meeting with the Russian leader. In a context of intense international political tensions, just a few months after the annexation of Crimea, he had indeed managed to obtain an exceptional interview with Vladimir Putin in June 2014.

The presenter of the JT, with his colleague Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, explains that they had fixed an appointment with the Russian president at 2 p.m., in Sochi. Their plane landed safely at 9 a.m. in the Russian city, but many pitfalls would later hinder their adventure.

At first, the vehicle, supposed to transport them to the residence of the head of the Kremlin, did not arrive until 5 p.m. They were then taken to the meeting place: “We were taken to a room without a toilet, without a tap, without anything to eat”, recalls the journalist. He then recounts that individuals joined them and posed as “Russian television”: “Agents of the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, a Russian intelligence service, nldr.)”, specifies Gilles Birch.

Time passed and there was still no trace of Putin. After many other obligations and a… siesta by the Russian president, the journalists finally managed to question him at 1 a.m.: In this situation, “the issue is no longer the same, you do not necessarily want to highlight Poutine difficulty or ask intelligent questions, but let’s get it over with, I’m exhausted, I’m fed up”, admits Gilles Bouleau.

Several years later, he describes this interview as “incredible”: “The physical presence of Vladimir Putin, the eyes that pierce you. He does not hesitate to show you that he is aggressive. He does not try to be nice” , he says. The presenter of TF1 also reports the barely veiled allusion that his interlocutor would have made to him at the end of the exchange: “The question that you asked me, no Russian journalist dares to ask me”, accompanying his word with a gesture of the thumb as if to mimic a slit throat.

The guest of TMC concludes his story by quoting a sentence that marked him and which, according to him, makes it possible to understand the character that is Vladimir Poutine: “You realize, after November 9, 1989, when the wall falls , I who had East German citizens under my boot, I had to have passes to go to the other side at the boot of Americans and Westerners? I will never forget.

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