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Russian monastery questions validity of Vladimir Putin’s so called Christian orthodoxy

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA— Russian President Vladimir Putin crosses himself during the Mass marking the Russian Orthodox Christmas at the Transfiguraton Cathedral January 7, 2020 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Putin travels to Istanbul on January 9 for the opening of the TurkStream gas pipeline. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

By Dmitry Abramov
March 24, 2013 Anno Domini
Translated from the Russian

Who Baptized Putin?: On the History of the Formation of the Myth of Putin’s ‘Baptism’

Oddly enough, no one has yet paid attention to obvious inconsistencies in the available information about the date of the baptism of Vladimir Putin …

A dirty provocation against our amazing actor Andrei Panin, thrown into the Russian media shortly before his murder, gave rise to a number of insinuations in church publications and in the Orthodox segment of the Russian blogosphere:

Particular indignation of the fighters “for the purity of Orthodoxy” was caused by Panin’s participation in the film “A kiss not for the press” (2003), filmed according to the script … of Lyudmila Putina, where the alleged “unbaptized atheist” Panin played the role of Platov, the prototype of which was the seemingly baptized Putin:

Meanwhile, close friends of Andrei Panin and his fellow countrymen, deeply outraged by the mean slander in the press against the popular favorite, were able to provide a lot of details about his Orthodox faith, including the cherished desire of Panin, a descendant of the Don Cossacks, to pass the Velikoretsky religious procession with believing pilgrims! Some very curious details about the film “A kiss not for the press” also surfaced, which were published by screenwriter Yulia Glezarova (VGIK), in particular, the director of the “highly classified” film Olga Zhulina told her back in 2008 that “Putin’s picture is categorically not liked, he demanded that it be reshot with another actor in the lead role … Panin plays the role of Putin there “…

It would seem that in this regard, the media should have a lot of questions, and journalists would have to, as they say, “dig the earth”, in order to find out the reasons for the “monarch’s anger”, but no. But since Andrei Panin was baptized, then who needed to fan the elephant out of a fly, and why did the stumbling block end up on the confessional field?

Putin (L) and the cathedral’s senior priest Nikolai Bryndin light candles during a Christmas liturgy at the Transfiguration Cathedral. (Photo by Alexei NikolskyTASS via Getty Images)

Oddly enough, no one has yet paid attention to the obvious inconsistencies in the available information about the date of the baptism of Vladimir Putin. For the first time, news that, it turns out, Yeltsin’s successor as president of Russia, Putin, is a believer, spread all over the world after his first meeting with Bush Jr. on June 16, 2001 in Ljubljana (Slovenia). In his memoir Decision Points, George W. Bush recalls the story of Vladimir Putin’s pectoral cross: “He seemed somewhat tense and began to speak while glancing at the notes. A few minutes later, I interrupted his monologue with a question: “Is it true that your mother gave you the cross that you consecrated in Jerusalem?” … From the expression on Putin’s face, I saw that he was shocked when Peter, the translator, translated my question. I explained that I had read about it somewhere and would like to know the details. I didn’t tell him that I learned about it from intelligence sources. Putin quickly came to his senses and told this story. His expression and voice softened as he remembered hanging a cross in his dacha, which was subsequently burned down. When the firefighters arrived, he told them that the only thing dear to him was the cross. He spoke with feeling about how the fireman opened his palm, and there was a cross. And he said, “It should have been.”

As George W. Bush confessed to the famous American analyst Peggy Noonan after this meeting, “Putin seems to believe in a higher power.” And to the entire journalistic corps, Bush Jr. said that he saw the “soul” of Putin, looking into the eyes of the new Russian president, which seemed to him “honest and credible”: “I looked him straight in the eyes and was able to catch the movement of his soul” (Ian Traynor . Bush and Putin: the end of the affair? // The Guardian, 16.08.2001).

True, the psychic abilities of the American president caused sarcastic grins from Hillary Clinton, who remarked that

“President Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and saw a kindred spirit, however, I would like to remind you that Putin was a KGB employee and he has no soul by definition.” 🙂

Earlier, Putin told the story of his pectoral cross in an interview with CNN host Larry King in September 2000: “There is a curious story after which I decided to always wear this cross on myself. I have a dacha near St. Petersburg, and there was a fire there, something shorted out in the sauna. Before going into the sauna, I took off the cross, and when the fire started, I jumped out with my comrades, practically naked, because everything happened unexpectedly. I must say that the cross was very dear to me. Mom gave it to me, and the fire was very serious. I thought there would not even be a trace of the cross, it was, you know, such a simple aluminum cross. My surprise was boundless when a worker came, rummaged in what was left of the house, unclenched his fist, and there was a cross. The house burned down completely. It was amazing. Now I am not parting with him “…

US President George W. Bush (R) gives a welcoming hug to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) as US First Lady Laura Bush (L) gestures before a banquet for heads of state in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 8, 2008. President Bush made a new plea for freedom of expression in China just hours before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The US leader, who has said he does not want to politicise his attendance at the Games, said he could be candid with China because the two countries had built up a strong relationship built on “respect and trust”. (MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

And Bush Jr. probably learned additional details of the story with Putin’s cross from the book “From the First Person”, which Vladimir Putin dictated to Natalya Timakova, Natalya Gevorkyan, and Andrei Kolesnikov as soon as he became president of Russia. The original electronic version of the text of this book with photographs first appeared on the website of the Vagrius publishing house on March 13, 2000, marking the beginning of world Putin studies:

Published in the book “From the First Person”, the first “version” of Putin’s biography, “cast” by him personally, is also posted on the Kremlin website, where the story with the cross is allotted only a few lines: plant named after Egorov. He was immediately given a room from the plant in a communal apartment, in an ordinary St. Petersburg house, in Baskov Lane, this is in the center … pensioners lived in our apartment, though not for long. My baptism is connected with them. Baba’s neighbor Anya was a devout person, she went to church, and when I was born, she and my mother secretly baptized me with her father, a party member, secretary of the party organization of the workshop. In 1993, when I was already working at the Leningrad City Council, I went to Israel as part of an official delegation. And my mother gave me my baptismal cross so that I could consecrate it on the Holy Sepulcher. I complied with her request, then put on this cross and since then I have not removed it “:

The 1996 fire at Putin’s dacha (according to him, “the house was built for 6 years”), which Viktor Zubkov helped Putin to acquire, in the notorious OZERO cooperative (established on November 11, 1996) on the shore of Lake Komsomolskoye, 120 km from Peter is mentioned in the book “From the First Person”, but there is no trace of the cross that miraculously survived the fire there:

As you can see, Larry King, and after him, Bush Jr. became the first listeners to whom Putin told this whole sentimental story, which was then widely spread all over the world …

U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), both wearing a Vietnamese ‘ao dai’ silk tunic, speak as they take part in the official photograph for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi, Vietnam 19 November 2006. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The second “Putin” version of the story with the cross was brought to the attention of a wide Russian reader in December 2001 by Natalya Timakova, who by that time had become the first deputy. Head of the Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation. Journalists of the popular weekly Sobesednik A. Levin, M. Yakovlev and N. Guzheva told their readers from her words that during the fire on August 12, 1996, “Putin thought that there was no trace of a simple aluminum cross – before going to the sauna, he always took it off and left it with his clothes in the locker room. But when a worker who came to clear the rubble dug into what was left of the house and unclenched his fist, there was no limit to the surprise of the future president. In his outstretched hand, Vladimir Vladimirovich saw his cross, safe and sound. Since then, Putin has not parted with him.”

The publication in “Interlocutor” (12.12.2001) appeared just before Putin’s visit as president of Russia together with his wife Lyudmila to Great Britain, on the eve of Catholic Christmas, on December 21, 2001:

It is hardly accidental that the main topic of the article “Putin was baptized in secret” for the first time was Putin’s attitude to faith and the Church, and his former classmates assured “Interlocutor” that they had never noticed their school friend not only looking into the church, but also wearing a cross?! The article quotes the words of a classmate of the president, Iosif Dolnikov:

“I can safely say that Putin did not attend church. And I have never seen a cross on him either.”

The president’s cousin Lyubov Shelomova repeated the same to journalists:

“I don’t remember that Volodya’s parents were believers. Vladimir’s father was a staunch communist, and his mother also did not show any particular inclination towards the church.”

However, Natalya Timakova decided to refute this eyewitness testimony, referring to the following revelation of Putin: “As Vladimir Vladimirovich said, in their communal apartment in Baskov Lane there was a pensioner neighbor, Baba Anya, a very devout woman. And then one day she and Maria Ivanovna (mother of Vladimir Vladimirovich – ed.) Secretly took him to the church and christened him. The president does not remember the temple—he was then five months old. ”Putin was born on October 7, 1952, therefore, baptism took place on March 7, but there is no memory of Vladimir in the church calendar on this day …”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 4, 2017: Patriarch Kirill (L) of Moscow and All Russia and Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar at a ceremony to lay flowers at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky in Moscow’s Red Square on Russia’s National Unity Day. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images)

The authors of the article in “Interlocutor” were the first among Russian journalists to identify in 2001 the proposed place of baptism of the future president near Baskov Lane—the Transfiguration Cathedral, the rector of which is … the elder brother of the current Patriarch Kirill, Archpriest Nikolai Gundyaev! The chairman of the parish council of the cathedral, Archpriest Boris Glebov, to whom the “Interlocutor” referred, then informed them that they saw Putin in their cathedral only once, when they served a panikhida for Anatoly Sobchak on February 24, 2000.

In the same article, “Putin was baptized secretly” in 2001, the testimony of Abbot Theophan (Lukyanov), deputy head of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem (since 1999), was published that during Sobchak’s trip to Israel in 1993 “Vladimir Putin … expressed a desire to consecrate his pectoral cross on the Holy Sepulcher. He said that his mother asked him about it. During the service he put the cross on the stone of the Tomb, and after the service he took it away ”…

A completely different version of Putin’s baptism appeared after the tragic death of Patriarch Alexy II on December 5, 2008, in early January 2012, i.e. more than 10 years later (!), when Vladimir Putin, as Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, visited the very Transfiguration Cathedral of St. Petersburg on Christmas Day (Putin tells of secret christening at Orthodox Christmas, 07/01/2012). This time, Putin told the country’s leading news agencies (see video: that right after the war, his parents lived right in front of the cathedral, and then his father was given a room in Baskov Lane, five min. walking from the temple, and in childhood, according to him, they “often” spun “with friends at the cathedral: they were attracted by the monumentality and beauty of the structure”:

But the most cardinal innovation in the second version of Putin’s baptism in 2012 was the date of baptism in the Transfiguration Cathedral: “I was baptized here, a month and a half after my birth”. As Putin emphasized, according to the mother’s stories, the priest said that the Archangel Michael was honored that day and he was also called Mikhail, so he suggested giving the child this name, “but my mother said that she had already registered the name Vladimir,” added Vladimir Putin. The priest agreed and showed in the church the icon of Prince Vladimir, patronizing this name:

It is strange that none of the journalists—neither secular nor ecclesiastical—have guessed so far to find out which of the priests of the Transfiguration Cathedral named Mikhail could baptize on November 21, 1952, on the feast of the Archangel Michael, the future president of Russia, which, in essence is not difficult. As we were able to establish for the first time, the priest Mikhail Vasilyevich Gundyaev, the father of the current Patriarch Kirill, became Putin’s godfather! It is even stranger that no one is interested in the birth books of the Transfiguration Cathedral with records of baptism for the period indicated by Putin, stored in the Central State Archives of St. Petersburg (TsGA SPb)!

And such archival probes are simply necessary after Sobchak’s widow Lyudmila Narusova, immediately after her expulsion from the Federation Council, in an interview with Novaya Gazeta on November 8, 2012, reported sensational news, which was blasted by the absolute majority of the media. According to Narusova, Putin was unbaptized and was baptized only in Jerusalem when they went there with Anatoly Sobchak in 1993: “before that, he said that he could not be baptized, and, as far as I remember, always wore a simple cross”!

Indeed, Putin has been to Israel several times: as Yakov Kedmi, ex-director (1992-99) of the government Bureau Nativ (1992-99) of the government Bureau “Nativ”, confirmed to the IzRus portal, for the first time Vladimir Putin accompanied Anatoly Sobchak as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the St. to Israel in 1993, and the second time he came with his wife and two daughters on vacation in 1996, becoming an employee of the administration of President Yeltsin. True, Israeli journalists Itama Eichner and Zvi Singer conveyed strange information to the Ynet news agency that Putin allegedly first came to Israel with his mother back in 1967: news994217787.php

Be that as it may, the testimony of Lyudmila Narusova in an article entitled “This is my political testament” completely negates the version that has been diligently built for decades about Putin’s “secret” baptism in childhood! The head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, who actually baptized Putin in 1993, was then the current head of the Tambov Metropolitanate, Metropolitan Theodosius (Vasnev):

It is extremely interesting that prior to his return from Germany in January 1990, Putin, through the KGB, had to take Fr. Feodosia (Vasnev), when he first left in December 1989 for an internship in the same Germany. It is curious in this regard that in 2000 and 2008, Putin personally awarded Sergei Vasnev (Vladyka Theodosius) with the Orders of Friendship and Honour …

In the end, a completely reasonable question arises: if our compatriots are more or less accustomed to the fact that Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) constantly “floods”, then how will they react to the discouraging fact that the guarantor of the Constitution himself is far from being honest with them, yes even in such a sensitive area as religion?!

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