Russian president reveals who baptized him


President figured out who dipped him into the baptismal font 64 years ago; it turned out to be the father of the head of the RPTs

by Andrei Vladimirov

Moskovskii Komsomolets, 22 November 2016


There is one less "secret of Putin." Vladimir Vladimirovich himself revealed the secret in the documentary film "Patriarch," shown on television channel Rossiia-1 on the day of the 70th birthday of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church [RPTs]. The president thinks that, by all appearances, he was baptized by none other than the father of Patriarch Kirill. And this account really appears to be quite plausible.


The infant Vladimir was brought to the church by his mother and baba Anya, a pious neighbor of the Putins in a St. Petersburg communal apartment. In secret from his father, who was a member of the party and secretary of the party organization of his shop. These details of his biography were made public back at the beginning of Putin's reign, in the famous book "From the First Person." Now a number of new details have been added to it. The sacrament of baptism was performed in the Transfiguration of the Savior cathedral in late 1952 in what was then Leningrad and now is St. Petersburg. The priest serving in the church suggested naming the infant Mikhail. "He said, today is St. Michael's day, the day of his angel, and I, he said, also am Mikhail, my name is Mikhail," the president shared in accordance with family tradition.


Incidentally, on the basis of this detail it is easy to establish the exact date of the historic event: St. Michael's day is observed on 21 November. That is, the event was exactly 64 years ago. Mama apologized but refused to follow the recommendation; the baby was already named after his father. At which the priest, according to Putin, was not at all offended. "Such a calm and kind batyushka. He showed her an icon somewhere there in the cathedral." But all of this is, so to speak, the prelude. In its climactic phase, the biographical historical detective waded in several years ago when during a conversation with the patriarch, the president decided to ask Kirill about how he had come to the church.


After Kirill reported to the head of state that his father had been a priest, the president continued the questioning. And in the final analysis it was revealed that the patriarch's father served in the very same church where Vladimir Putin was baptized. And in the same years. "I had already pricked up my ears," the president explains. "I said: what was your father's name? and he said Mikhail. I said: And can you tell me whether at that time there were other Mikhails serving? And he said: No, my father was the only Mikhail. And I said to him: You know what? It seems that your father baptized me."


There is not yet any documentary confirmation of this hypothesis. Indeed, it is unlikely that there ever will be; registration of rituals of baptism was not carried out during soviet times for obvious reasons. It is necessary to rely exclusively on the president's words. However his supposition is surely very close to the truth. At least, the biography of Mikhail Gundiaev, the patriarch's father, does not in the least contradict the president's account. He really did serve in the Transfiguration of the Savior cathedral from 1951 to 1960. And in 1952 Mikhail Vasilevich had the rank of a priest; that is, he was fully authorized to perform the ritual of baptism.


It should be added to this that the fate of the patriarch's elder brother, Archpriest Nikolai Gundiaev, is also closely connected with the Transfiguration cathedral. During almost four decades, up to 2014, he was the rector of the church and now he has the status of rector emeritus. For now the most important thing for Nikolai Mikhailovich is his lecture career; he is a professor of the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy. Incidentally, the third and last of the offspring of the likely baptizer of the president has a job; the patriarch's younger sister, Elena Mikhailovna Gundiaeva, occupies the position of vice-rector of the Academy of Culture. As the saying goes, it's a small world. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 November 2016)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Editorial disclaimer: RRN does not intend to certify the accuracy of information presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the articles as they appeared in news media of countries of the former USSR.

If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL,