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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 08:56 GMT
Putin praise for Russian war film
President Putin
President Putin saw the film with Afghan war veterans
Russian president Vladimir Putin has praised a "tragic film" about Russian war veterans in 1980s Afghanistan.

Mr Putin said The 9th Company was "close to life", after viewing the film with Afghan veterans at his residence in Novo Ogarevo outside Moscow.

The film was released in Russia in September and has already set an attendance record there.

Director Fedor Bondarchuk said the film was about those who had fought in Afghanistan and were "forgotten".

'Close to life'

Putin thanked The 9th Company's actors and crew for making a "very good film".

"Perhaps like any work of art this is not a piece of life but a creative work. But I think it is very close to life, at least judging from what I know and heard," Mr Putin said after watching film.

"This is a tragic story from the life of our country and our people. But people who fought there for their ideals did a good job," he said.

Soviet tanks departing Afghanistan
The Soviet army left Afghanistan in 1989

In the first five days, 2,138,074 people watched the film in Russia and the other ex-Soviet republics which form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The $9m (5.2m) film has already raised $25.2m (14.5m) since its release.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan - which resulted in the death of about one million Afghans - lasted 10 years from 1979 to 1989, when the Red Army finally withdrew.

Putin compared the film with War and Peace by Bondarchuk's father, Sergei Bondarchuk, saying it was "a real and serious work about people who happened to be in extreme conditions".

Fedor Bondarchuk is the first film director to have been invited by the president to his residence to watch the film together.

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