The President of Russia Vladimir Putin in his column for the magazine “Russian Pioneer” talks about his parents in the war, about his brother, about all the amazing coincidences of which consisted of his life.
In nine days all of Russia will celebrate, and further immortalize an historic victory for a homeland, and for the world. Whether or not any foreign leaders attend Victory Day celebrations in Red Square on May 9th, a great people have reason for unshakable pride. So too, it may come to pass that the leader of this dynamic nation will one day be remembered alongside the fallen heroes of Stalingrad and Leningrad.
Here’s a view of Vladimir Putin I’ll bet not many out there know of or understand.
We were scanning the news today when my partner Mihaela discovered a story about Vladimir Putin, and a column he wrote for the magazine “Russian Pioneer” (or Русский пионер in Russian). The article’s title, translated for feeling reads, “Life Is Such a Simple Thing and Cruel”, and it reflects not only Vladimir Putin’s personal take on the Great Patriotic War, but interestingly, Russia’s as well. In the piece Putin candidly discussed the coincidences that have informed his life. He goes on to confirm all the stories I and other writers have spoken of at times, of his family, his home, and the Nazi siege of Leningrad that took so many hundreds of thousands. Most striking though, is that the now celebrated leader is still confused that his parents never wanted to hate the enemy. In this resides perhaps the best quality of Russians, some miraculous capacity for forgiveness. And Putin speaks of it all reverently, in an almost childlike way, from a position of a “fly on the wall” listening to dark conversations of grownups. The effect is mesmerizing actually. Observing Putin from the standpoint of being his father’s son, rather than TIME Magazine’s most influential person, is riveting.
It is not an easy essay to translate and deliver to you quickly, as our translation team is tied up with 50 other stories. So I solicited the help of our rocket scientist programmer, Aleksander Shatskih (Александр Шацких) to assist in conveying the feeling behind Mr. Putin’s column. What’s significant about the piece, other than the fact Russia’s president has a column somewhere out there, is the harmony that Russia’s leader feels in being Russian. Reading him speak of his mother, father, and brother with such clarity of recollection calls up sentiments I’ve expressed before.
The Great War, the Siege of Leningrad, and Vladimir Putin’s inextricable ties to the people and events of that time tell more about the man than a million biographies. He relates his father’s part in the war, and later validation of the stories he was told. One in particular, of the senior Putin’s narrow escape from Nazi patrols. Later in the monologue Putin relates a still more miraculous happenstance, when his father recalls a reunion with a comrade who saved his life during the war. The story Russia’s leading citizen tells is rich with bridled emotion, controlled yet telling the truth of a city and its citizens left for dead, surrounded and nearly destroyed by an ultimately frustrated enemy. Just how disparaged the Nazis were, is cemented with this recollection from Putin’s father speaking about the blockade of Leningrad:
“We ended up breaking through the blockade in another place, but there was bitter fighting around where we were, nonetheless. Bullets and shells flew relentlessly everywhere; the Germans realized a break was possible. So at Nevsky, they tried to level the spot to the ground. There’s no telling how much metal still lies beneath each square meter of ground there.”