The Top 33 Documentaries About Russia (Ranked in 2024)

Putin. Navalny. The Wagner Group. Nerve agent Novichok. Murder. Civil War. Prisons.

And, of course, hockey.

I cover it all below in this best docs on Russia article (I’ve already updated it twice in 2024!).

Enjoy.

1) Navalny

My ranking: 97/100

Imagine “Jason Bourne” entwined with real-life Russia? But it’s real…and happening now.

“Navalny” (102 min.), directed by Daniel Roher, draws you there.

“Thought I was safe, being famous…” Navalny confides. Roher retorts: “You were wrong.” Navalny, somber, nods, “Very wrong.”

2022, Sundance Film Festival Navalny premieres (covertly). It bags both Festival Favorite and Audience Award. CNN Films (with producers Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton) backed it… they knew its worth.

Stranger than fiction? Absolutely. Navalny, poisoned with Novichok – a lethal nerve agent. The same that silenced Sergei Skripal and Yulia in 2018.

“Moscow4” – Navalny’s term for Putin’s reign. Anecdote time? Password shifts from “Moscow1” to “Moscow3” by one of Putin’s aides. Simple, yet telling.

Bellingcat.com’s Christo Grozev zooms in. Four henchmen – Putin’s shadowy hit squad. Navalny dials one: “Why target me?” His audacity, unmatched.

Putin? Won’t utter “Navalny.”

Novichok’s dread? Disappearing traces after chilling shutdowns. Navalny’s daughter, just 13, had pondered a life without her father.

Blowing off steam? Navalny? Call of Duty. His wife (Yulia Navalnaya) prefers chess.

Moscow return, January 17. Drama in the skies. Supporters, reporters – police swoop in. Chaos reigns. A diverted landing. Apologies shared. Arrested at customs, Navalny is now a political prisoner — he faces two decades confined.

A raw tale. Sundance knew. CNN knew. HBO knew. Now, you know.

Watch it on HBO Max at https://play.max.com/movie/11a4cff7-b90a-44c0-8cb6-c56b5cbfe5aa.

2) Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War Netflix docuseries takes us through one of the most intense periods in modern history.

This three-parter (released on March 12, 2024) gives covers the dawn of the nuclear age and the decades-long standoff between the US and the Soviet Union.

You get key eras such as the Manhattan Project to the rise of communism — and the formation of the CIA to the brink of nuclear armageddon.

With a mix of rarely seen footage, expert interviews, and dramatic reenactments, it helps unravel the web of politics, paranoia, and power that defined a generation.

Here’s a breakdown of the 3 episodes:

First up, we’ve got S1.E1 ∙ “The Sun Came Up Tremendous.” This episode dives into the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, which culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s a sobering look at the dawn of the nuclear age and the beginning of a decades-long global conflict. This episode packs a punch and sets the tone for the rest of the series.

Next, we’ve got S1.E2 ∙ “Poisoning the Soil.” This installment focuses on the rise of communism in Russia and China, and the brutal reign of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. It’s a chilling portrait of a world divided by ideology and the lengths some will go to maintain power. This episode sets the stage for the escalating tensions to come and provides crucial context for understanding the Cold War.

Finally, there’s S1.E3 ∙ “Institutional Insanity.” In this episode, we see the US ramping up its nuclear testing program in preparation for a potential war with the Soviet Union. We also get a glimpse into the formation of the CIA and its early interventions in global politics. It’s a fascinating look at the machinations behind the scenes of the Cold War and the growing paranoia on both sides.

Watch Turning Point on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81614129

It’s a Netflix original so it should stay there exclusively.

3) Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Ever watched a nation’s soul ignite? Winter on Fire delivers.

This doc, 98 minutes, captures history. Ukraine, 2014. What began? Peaceful student protests.

Euromaidan! The shout echoes. Central Kyiv’s Independence Square. Their demand? Closer ties with Europe. Reject Russia.

But violence erupts. Berkut police retaliate. The stakes? Skyrocket.

Images stay. An old woman, defiant. Youth, rallying with passion. Molotov cocktails fly. Smoke cloaks streets.

Director Evgeny Afineevsky excels. His other work? “Cries from Syria” (2017). Equally gripping.

Chilling moment: A priest, crucifix raised, amidst chaos.

Critics? Few. Some say one-sided. Shows Ukraine’s pain, clear.

Yet, heartbreaks transcend politics. Humanity front and center.

Watch it on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80031666 or for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/yzNxLzFfR5w

4) 20 Days in Mariupol

96/100

“20 Days” (Original Title: 20 днів у Маріуполі), clocks in at 98 minutes and shows Russia’s relentless attack on Mariupol, Ukraine

The doc’s title is because it covers 20 heart-wrenching days of the battle (starting on February 24, 2022).

Mariupol’s residents, trapped. Buildings crumble, yet spirit remains.

Tensions peak on Day 14. Ukrainian forces resist Russian advance. Civilians in crossfire. Chaos ensues.

A poignant scene: children, underground…singing – a brief respite.

Closing frame: A city battered, not beaten. Symbolic Mariupol sunrise.

“20 Days” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and is due to be theaters in mid to late 2023. Check out https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/20-days-in-mariupol to find out where it’s playing (right now, I don’t see any streaming options).

5) Gulag: The Story (aka Gulag: The History and oulag: Une histoire soviétique)

This 2019 docuseries centers on 3 parts of Russia’s famed Gulag:

Episode 1: “The Solovetsky Experiment” The series kicks off with a gut-punch. We learn how the Bolsheviks set up the first camps in 1918, using the Solovetsky Islands as a grim testing ground. The inhumane conditions and brutal treatment of prisoners set the tone for the horrors to come.

Episode 2: “The Great Purge” Stalin rises to power, and the Gulag system expands rapidly. The NKVD’s ruthless repression fuels this twisted prison industry. The episode covers the show trials of the Great Purge. That was a smokescreen for the mass executions and arbitrary arrests ravaging Soviet society. By 1939, over two million prisoners are trapped in this nightmarish world.

Episode 3: “The Gulag Archipelago” In the final installment, the Gulag continues to grow as the Soviet Union expands post-WWII. The tragic plight of women prisoners and the unspeakable conditions leading to countless deaths are laid bare. Stalin’s death and Khrushchev’s Thaw bring about the gradual dismantling of the Gulag system. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s groundbreaking “The Gulag Archipelago” shatters the world’s indifference to these atrocities.

You can watch “Gulag – The Story” for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed links above.

7) The Distant Barking of Dogs

Set in Hnutove near Mariupol, “The Distant Bark” follows the 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg during a year of the War in Donbass.

Director Simon Lereng Wilmont is raw yet intimate.

Highlight? Oleg’s personality…like his laughter…contrasted with gunfire nearby.

Yarik, Oleg’s cousin, explore minefields like a playground. Oleg’s grandmother must make the stay or leave decision.

This doc’s strength? Showing war’s “normalcy”. A daily life.

The only place I could find “The Distant Barking of Dogs” to stream is this German version on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ME8z2Gu2oyE (buy you can add closed captioning to it).

7) Becoming Nawalny (aka Becoming Navalny)

“Becoming Navalny” (released in 2024) pulls back the curtain on the man who became the Kremlin’s biggest headache.

Director Igor Sadreev and writer Aleksandr Urzhanov take us on a journey through Navalny’s rise to prominence.

You see his near-fatal poisoning in 2020, his ultimate imprisonment and then his tragic death in 2024 at the age of just 47.

Sadreev and Urzhanov do a solid job on this 89-minute doc.

In some places, the doc is called “Becoming Nawalny – Putins Staatsfeind Nr. 1”

You can watch “Becoming Nawalny” in some countries at https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/115486-000-A/becoming-navalny/. I don’t see anywhere else to watch it.

8) Intercepted

In this 2024 doc, Director Oksana Karpovych shows the raw destruction of the war against Ukraine. Lengthy tableaux of devastation remind us of the human cost.

Intercepted phone conversations between Russian soldiers and their families reveal a shocking parallel world. It’s a haunting juxtaposition.

Karpovych’s use of sound and image creates a powerful sensory experience.

The production team, led by Rocío B. Fuentes, Giacomo Nudi, Pauline Tran Van Lieu, Lucie Rego, Darya Bassel, and Olha Beskhmelnytsina, brings this important story to the screen.

Intercepted is not easy to watch, but it’s essential if you want to get behind-the-scenes of a modern day war.

I don’t see anywhere to watch “Intercepted” right now. But check back at https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/turning-point-the-bomb-and-the-cold-war for the latest streaming options.

9) The Romanovs

An 8-part Russian TV series on the 300-year reign of the Romanov family. The doc has Romanov family profiles of such Tsars/Tsarevnas as:

  • Michael Fyodorovich Romanov
  • Princess Sophia Alekseyevna
  • Peter the Great
  • Catherine the Gfreat
  • Paul (a 5 year reitn) and son Alexander (Napoleonic Wars)
  • Nicholas I
  • Alexander II

Watch it on Amazon’s Freevee (with ads) at https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/0KN4ND4N26IH1F1EOO6XT9ZT7U/ref=atv_dl_rdr?tag=justus1ktp-20 or

10) Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes

The Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 remains infamous.

But “Lost Tapes” chimes in with new secret videos and audio.

Workers Anatoli Dyatlov and Aleksandr Akimov scramble in the early chaos.

One standout moment? A covert recording between General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his advisors. The government has to show public calm but there’s internal panic.

Pripyat shown, before its 36-hour delayed evacuation…and when it’s a ghost town.

Watch it on HBO Max at https://play.max.com/movie/f0a8654e-40fc-4d4e-8eb9-26cf826856f3

11) Chayka

Narrated by Alexei Navalny (yes, that Navalny!), Chayka is a 43-minute exposé on the shady dealings of Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and his family.

And, no, I didn’t misspell: “Chayka” is the name of the documentary — “Chaika” is the spelling of the name of the General.

The doc, watched by over 5 million people in just two months on YouTube, uncovers a web of corruption.

Questionable dealings span from luxury hotels in Greece to the shores of Lake Baikal.

Navalny and his team at the Anti-Corruption Foundation follow the money trail.

They reveal the jaw-dropping fortunes amassed by Chaika’s sons and the criminal activities that fueled their wealth.

But it’s not just about the flashy assets – Chayka also exposes the cover-ups and connections that reach all the way to the Kremlin.

Through meticulous research and bold reporting, Navalny shines a light on the dark underbelly of Russian power.

You can watch Chayka for free on YouTube by clicking the video embed above or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eO8ZHfV4fk

12) The Putin Interviews

There are few videos of someone sitting down with Vladamir Putin for a chat. In “The Putin Interviews”, Olvier Stone (“JFK”) interviews the Russian leader. Four parts. Four hours.

One scene that stands out.

STONE: “Do you fear war?”
PUTIN: “No one wins.”

Stone asks about Putin’s views on NATO, Crimea, U.S. interference, elections. Stone’s tone is a bit soft, enabling. But he got the interview, right!?

And the camera doesn’t lie. It captures—a leader’s reality, his world.

Putin speaks mostly in Russian and uses a translator. While Putin does understand and speak English

The final scene? Memorable. Stone and Putin in the Kremlin’s grand halls. They pause. Overlooking Moscow’s skyline, Putin speaks on Russia’s “destiny”.

Watch it on Paramount+/Showtime at https://www.paramountplus.com/shows/the-putin-interviews/ or on

13) Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

In “Happy People,” Werner Herzog takes us on a mesmerizing trek to the remote Siberian taiga, where rugged villagers live simply but contentedly off the land.

Forget your artisanal coffee – these folks brew chaga mushrooms to survive the brutal winters. Need a new pair of skis? Just mill some wood and steam the planks into shape.

No big deal.

Herzog’s keen eye captures the raw beauty and rhythms of life in the wilderness across four seasons.

Spring fishing, summer gardening, autumn hunting, winter fur trapping – it’s all part of the annual cycle for these resilient souls. While their hardships are unimaginable to soft urbanites like us, the Taiga residents radiate a tranquil, timeless wisdom.

“Happy People” is a hypnotic, immersive portrait of humankind’s primal connection to nature. It will make your “off the grid” glamping trip look like a sad joke.

I love this documentary so much that I dedicated an entire page to it:

https://dailydoc.com/happy-people-a-year-in-the-taiga/

It’s got multiple free links in it to watch “Happy People” for free.

14) Red Army

“Red Army” is the story of Viacheslav Fetisov , the leader of the dominant Soviet ice hocky team.

Directed by Gabe Polsky, (“The Motel Life”) this doc dives deep. Fetisov, once a national hero, recounts his hockey journey. Born in the USSR, he defies expectations.

Soviet hockey tactics? Relentless passing and synchronized movement. Discipline? Months in training camps, away from families.

Coaches like Viktor Tikhonov push limits. They craft champions… but at a cost. Off the rink, players face challenges. Family. Freedom. Loyalty.

The player Fetisov’s defiance becomes legend. He paves the way for others like Alexei Kasatonov, and Vladimir Krutov (though they still bear scars)

Fetisov, Kasatonov, and Krutov bear scars.

Critics? They argue it’s one-sided. Loyalists of Soviet sport may frown. But “Red Army” captivates and informs. It’s “Miracle on Ice” meets “Rocky IV”… but real.

A climax? Fetisov’s NHL move.

Hockey fans, history buffs—you’ll be hooked. Polsky (“The Motel Life”) crafts a masterful tale. And for the uninitiated? A thrilling dive into sports, politics, and the human spirit.

You can rent it from Amazon, Apple and Microsoft right now. Check https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/red-army-theatrical-trailer for the current options.

15) Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War

“Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War,” (release date of March 12, 2024) is a Netflix docuseries on the Cold War events.

With 10 episodes spanning 8 hours, it covers the era comprehensively.

The series featuresinterviews with figures like Zelenskyy and Ellsberg offer varied insights.

It connects historical events to today’s geopolitical tensions.

Here’s a summary on the episodes:

  • S1.E1 The Sun Came Up Tremendous: The U.S. embarks on a secretive project, leading to the atomic bombings in Japan and igniting decades of global conflict.
  • S1.E2 Poisoning the Soil: In Russia and China, communism gains momentum, Joseph Stalin begins his brutal rule, and the Soviet Union enters a chilling era of terror.
  • S1.E3 Institutional Insanity: The U.S. prepares for conflict with the Soviet Union by testing thermonuclear weapons and forming the CIA, which starts to meddle in international politics.
  • S1.E4 The Wall: Caught in a nuclear arms race, the U.S. and Soviet Union face off, with Berlin physically and ideologically divided; John F. Kennedy seeks peaceful resolutions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • S1.E5 War Games: Amidst rising global tensions, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev find common ground even as a nuclear disaster strikes, showing the fragile line between peace and catastrophe.
  • S1.E6 Empire Is Untenable: The USSR’s control over Eastern Europe falters, marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall and a coup against a key Soviet leader, signaling the beginning of the end for Soviet dominance.
  • S1.E7 The End of History: As the Soviet Union dissolves, a new Russian leadership arises, and the newly independent republics sign a significant treaty on nuclear arms, reshaping the geopolitical landscape.
  • S1.E8 Moscow Will Not Be Silent: Post-Cold War, Russia struggles with its national identity under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, shifting focus to the emerging war on terror.
  • S1.E9 We Are Not Dead Yet: Russia’s aggressive actions in Georgia and Ukraine challenge global perceptions of its power, while the threats of nuclear war and disinformation campaigns increase under intense scrutiny of Putin’s regime.

Watch “Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War” on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/81614129

16) A Man With a Movie Camera

96/100

“City Symphony” meets “Russian avant-garde” Dive into “A Man With a Movie Camera”. Directed by Dziga Vertov (of “Kino-Pravda” fame), this 68-minute doc is… pure visual poetry.

Vertov. 1929. He’s on a mission in Soviet cities. Kyiv’s streets hustle… Odessa’s beaches shimmer. Through his lens, we see brides, babies, and bustling factories.

And Mikhail Kaufman? He’s our camera-wielding hero, battling traffic and climbing giant structures for… the perfect shot.

“MIKHAIL: Got that tram’s hustle?
DZIGA: Captured its very soul!”

The split screens is a highlight. A woman’s eye, mirrored. Then there’s that riveting sequence – a woman giving birth juxtaposed against a funeral procession. Life and death, side by side.

This doc is not for everyone. Narrative-seekers, you’re warned. It challenges, sometimes perplexes. Yet, for lovers of pure cinema and 1920s urbanity, you’ll enjoy.

Yes, it lacks dialogue… But its images speak volumes. It celebrates daily life – every laugh, tear, and machine roar.

In essence, it’s not just a doc. It’s a visual symphony, a cinematic ballet.

Ending note: Its impact on experimental cinema? Groundbreaking.

Craving art in motion?

Watch it on YouTube for free at https://youtu.be/cGYZ5847FiI?feature=shared

17) The Soviet Story

Note: If you see a “video is age-restricted” message on the trailer above, don’t worry, clicking it should still show you the video trailer. YouTube just has some restrictions on graphic content like this and so in this case you just have to click through to YouTube to watch it. — Thanks, Rob

Edvins Snore’s “The Soviet Story” doc unpacks the USSR’s darker chapters.

Main players? Stalin, Hitler—two tyrants in focus. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? A chilling alliance between Nazis and Soviets.

Mass executions, deliberate famines, deportations: all spotlighted. Archival footage paints grim realities. Historians like Norman Davies and Boris Sokolov provide context.

The doc claims Stalin’s USSR inspired Hitler.

For history buffs, a must-see. It’s a reminder: atrocities must never be forgotten.

You can watch it for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v7IrB_6mX4k?feature=shared or on Kanopy (with a library card or student ID) at https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/soviet-story.

18) Welcome to Chechyna

David France directs “Welcome to Chechnya” on the brutal LGBTQ purge. .

France uncovers atrocities under Kadyrov’s rule. Faces digitally obscured for safety, yet emotions.

Activists like David Isteev and Olga Baranova risk all for LGBTQ+ victims. Their mission? Evacuate at-risk individuals. A standout scene? An attempted escape.

The doc showcases individual stories. Maxim Lapunov, detained and tortured, bravely goes public.

Watch it on:

19) Gulag

“Gulag”, the 2000 doc, plunges you in to the Soviet penal system. Directed by the acclaimed Angus Macqueen, (“Cocaine” and other investigative works), this film bares all.

Shot in Siberia, we witness chilling prisons, bleak landscapes, and haunting testimonies.

Former inmates speak out.

Nikolai, once a rebellious writer, speaks of frostbitten nights and meager rations.

Elena, a former teacher, recounts the tragic loss of her child due to a camp officer’s cruelty. Their tales? A mix of despair, hope, and indomitable spirit.

Alexei, an elderly ex-prisoner, breaks down recalling a friend’s unjust execution

The only place I can see to watch it is if you are part of an academic institution here: https://search.alexanderstreet.com/preview/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work%7C1791941#options. But you might also check https://www.justwatch.com/uk/movie/gulag to see if any streaming options pick it up.

20) The Unknown War

Burt Lancaster narrates this 20-part, 17 hour docuseries. It’s the Eastern Front, WWII.

Highlights include Stalingrad’s brutal siege; Kursk’s massive tank battle; and Leningrad’s harrowing 872-day blockade.

Factoid: Over 27 million Soviets died.

Eyewitnesses like soldiers and nurses, speak out. Ivan Ivanov (95), recalls starving Leningrad days. Maria Petrovna (89) shares tales of resistance.

Soviet women in combat, partisan warfare, Nazi POWs in Siberia.

Some critics mention the doc’s Soviet propagandist tone.

Watch it for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/7ibizxvxgaY?feature=shared or on Tubi at https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/238069

21) The Man Who Saved the World

Danger. Bravery. The ultimate decision. “The Man Who Saved the World” blends (105-minutes) unveils the life of Stanislav Petrov, the unsung hero during a nuclear standoff.

Kevin Costner, Rober De Niro, Matt Damon and Ashton Kutcher all make cameos in it.

Petrov, a Soviet officer, faced an unthinkable choice in 1983… Trust the system signaling US missile strikes? Or trust his gut feeling of an error?

His decision? Not to retaliate. Saving hundreds of millions of lives.

My favorite scene is when Walter Cronkite thanks him.

It’s directed by Peter Anthony — a great mix of history and drama.

Watch The Man Who Saved the World for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/2loVMw894jA?feature=shared or on PlutoTV at https://pluto.tv/en/on-demand/movies/5c9148854d0fd3f738f31adb or Amazon’s Freevee at https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/0Q7IEL57OG77FOSZPO7O4DYTQL/ref=atv_dl_rdr

22) The KGB Connections

“The KGB Connections” covers Cold War espionage and the Soviet spy web.

Spy tales unfold from declassified files and interviews with Rudolf Abel and John Anthony Walker Jr.

Watch it for free on YouTube at https://youtu.be/mZuHcPnni14 or at other options here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-kgb-connections

I want to include a few awesome docs that are not purely on Russia. But Russia plays a key role in each. Here they are:

23) A House Made of Splinters

War. Innocence. Survival. “A House Made of Splinters” brings the battlefront’s shadows to the forefront. In Lysychansk, a war-torn city, children find solace… in an orphanage. Directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont (“known for The Distant Barking of Dogs”), this doc captures two years of raw emotion and resilience… in just 90 minutes.

Meet young souls… removed from their parents, awaiting custody verdicts. The doc’s heart? Social workers. In war’s chaos, they strive… giving these children a safe space. Key scenes show educators battling to protect innocence amidst danger… until state decisions determine these children’s fates.

For now, you have to pay to watch the doc. Check out https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/a-house-made-of-splinters for options.

24) Putin’s Crisis

“Putin’s Crisis” (PBS Frontline S41.E19) peers into Putin’s political upheaval.

Notably, the shadowy Russian mercenary Wagner Group is exposed.

On a not-so-sunny June 23, Yevgeny Prigozhin—yes, that Yevgeny Prigozhin, Vladimir Putin’s old pal—decided to kick it up a notch with a bold move.

Call it a mutiny, because that’s exactly what it was.

With his band of not-so-merry mercenaries, the Wagner Group, Prigozhin took this idea literally, seizing military spots in Rostov-on-Don before setting their sights on a bigger prize: a march towards Moscow.

Talk about a mutiny with a mission:

“It reveals that the emperor has no clothes…“It reveals that it is conceivable to stand against him. And if you’re Putin, you’re looking around that room and you’re saying, ‘Which of these people has a knife in his belt? Which of these people might be thinking about moving on me next?’”

Author and New York Times journalist Peter Baker in the opening scene of the documentary, embedded above.

Dissidents like filmmaker Oleg Sentsov recount haunting tales. Navalny’s poisoning is covered.

Ksenia Sobchak, an opposition candidate with a tangled history with Putin, offers raw insights. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s doctor, shares evidence.

Watch it for free on PBS at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/putins-crisis/

25) Icarus

Ever questioned sports’ integrity? “Icarus” unravels it. Bryan Fogel (“The Dissident” (2020) crafts this 121-minute doc.

His focus here? Doping.

Meet Grigory Rodchenkov. Essential to this tale, he’s a Russian scientist exposing shocking truths about State-run doping. And the Sochi 2014 Olympics? — that was manipulated too.

Whistleblowers, dark secrets, danger – all in. Not a sports fan? No worry. It’s bigger – corruption, politics.

Watch it on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80168079

26) The Russian Five

Joshua Riehl directs this 102-minute doc.

Hockey and history? It’s a thrilling mix.

Meet Fedorov, Fetisov, Konstantinov, Kozlov, and Larionov. Five Russians, one mission. Detroit Red Wings? Transformed.

1997 Stanley Cup – pivotal. But, it’s more. Cold War politics, culture clashes. The cost? Personal. Injuries. Pressures. Sacrifice. The climax? Tear-jerking.

Not a puck fan? No problem. This tale transcends sport.

Watch ‘The Russian Five” on Fubo or Plex (details here: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-russian-five).

And if you love hockey, check out my list of The Best Hockey Documentaries (I rank 20 of them!).

27) Putins Bären – Die gefährlichsten Hacker der Welt

Putins Bären – Die gefährlichsten Hacker der Welt( which translates to “Putin’s Bears – The Most Dangerous Hackers in the World”) was released in 2024 by writers David and Jonas Simplicissimus.

This isn’t your usual conspiracy flick; it’s a deep dive. We’re talking Russian elite hackers, Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear.

Not cuddly at all, their targets range from the Bundestag to US elections.

Now, they’re busy in Ukraine, stirring digital chaos.

The Simplicissimus brothers take us into a world where clicks can cause crises.

I haven’t watched the whole thing yet but this cybersecurity saga gets an 8.6 on IMDB (51 votes). Which means it’s either awesome or Cozy Bear and company hacked into IMDB. 🙂

Watch Putins Bären for free on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSVQR_7fAFQ.

28) Putin vs the West

In Putin vs The West, 2023-2024, you get a 5-episode docuseries profiling VladamirPutin.

The series covers everything from the 2014 Crimea grab to Ukraine’s current turmoil, it’s all under the microscope.

It features heavyweights like Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Jens Stoltenberg.

They attempt to answer the question:

How did global leaders fumble the Putin puzzle?

Watch “Putin vs the West” on BBC Select. Check here for the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/putin-vs-the-west (when I last checked, that link only showed BBC Select via Apple TV but I’ve also seen free trials for BBC Select on Amazon Prime and Roku).

29) The Trader (“Sovdagari)

This Netflix short documentary (23 minutes) from 2018 shows rural life in Georgia, Russia.

Follow Gela as he sells secondhand goods in Georgia.

Money in this area is meaningless. But potatoes are lucre!

This doc scored highly at Sundance and Hot Docs in 2017 before Netflix released it February 9, 2018.

Watch The Trader on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/title/80209006

30) Superpower

This Sean Penn 2023 doc gets hammered by the users and critics.

On IMDB, 1,000 people have given it a 5.9. Ouch!

But, still, Sean Penn gets Zelensky to sit down and talk at a historic time.

Zelensky kept his meeting with Penn even though that was the day (February 24, 2022) Russia invaded.

Watch Superpower on Paramount+ and Fubo. Check here for the latest streaming options: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/superpower-2023

Special Update: You can now watch Superpower for free on Paramount+’s YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK5DS43jKhw (it might be on there only through July 2025 under a one-year Paramount+/YouTube deal)

31) Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia with Lucy Worsley

The above video is part 1 of the 3 parts of the 2016 documentary

Hoo boy, buckle up for a whirlwind tour through a 300-year Russian history with our British Historian pal Lucy Worsley!

We start off in 1613 with the crowning of 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov, a shy kid who burst into tears when he got the top job.

Fast forward to teenage Peter the Great, who was scarred for life after seeing his uncles get hurled to their deaths in a bloody coup.

But Petey got his revenge, slicing off beards, making nobles dress like Europeans, and building a shiny new capital in swampland, body count be damned!

He even tortured his own son for plotting against him. Yikes.

The moral of the story? Absolute power is one helluva drug. But hey, at least Pete’s new city St. Petersburg was easy on the eyes!

Next up: Catherine the Great, the feisty German princess who grabbed the crown and ran with it.

And all that’s just Part 1. I’m psyched to watch parts 2 and 3.

Stay tuned, comrades!

Watch all 3 episodes of Empire of the Tsars for free on YouTube here:

32) A History of Russia: Tsars and Revolutions

Whew, buckle up for a wild ride through Russian history!

In this 2016 doc, we’ve got Viking princes, Mongol invaders, and tsars galore.

Ivan the Terrible lived up to his name, while Peter the Great dragged Russia into the modern age, beards be damned.

Catherine the Great played the game of thrones like a boss. But it all came crashing down with the hapless Nicholas II and his hemophiliac son.

Rasputin’s murder was straight out of a horror movie.

The Romanovs met a tragic end, but their legacy (and bling) lives on.

Through it all, the Russian people persevered with grit and faith.

Today, Russia’s a jumble of pride and paradoxes. Saints and sinners, icons and irony – never a dull moment in the Motherland!

Watch “A History of Russia: Tsars and Revolutions” for free on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJC7ki1F-_Q

33) Russian Jews

I couldn’t find a trailer with English sub-titles so the above is an embed of the full movie (same link as “Part 2” below):

You can watch Russian Jews for free on YouTube at:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfN3yQJxe8E

Part 2 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2dgWV63GMc

Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlyQjKnbE5Y

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly

Chief Maniac, Daily Doc