Mina Yuditskaya (Yudit on her Israeli passport) taught German to the would-be President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin when he was in his ninth and tenth grade. The woman currently lives in the center of Tel Aviv. She emigrated to Israel three years after Putin’s graduation. Mina Yuditskaya kindly shared her memories of Putin’s school years in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
“I did not really have any favorite pupils back in those years when I worked as a teacher of German at School 281 in Leningrad. Speaking about Vladimir, I can use the word “very” on a variety of instances. He was a very modest, a very secluded, a very silent, a very serious and a very attentive boy. He was not a naughty boy at all.
“I left Russia in 1973. One day I read an article in a newspaper which said that people found Putin’s copybooks on chemistry in the loft of his old house. The story said that he had written some German texts in those books. That was a very touching piece of news for me. I sent a letter to the Russian embassy in Israel after that article. I just wanted to let Vladimir know that I had moved to Israel. At the embassy they asked for some photos of my schoolchildren, but it was strictly forbidden to take any group photos away from Russia at that time. Their requirement put an end to my effort. Afterwards, in April 2005, I found out that Putin was going to visit Israel to meet WWII veterans repatriated from the former USSR. I went to the embassy asking for a permission to attend the meeting. They invited me to Jerusalem in the long run. The meeting was held at Metzudat David Hotel. I saw Putin shaking hands with everyone. A little bit later he came up to me and said that he would like to have a cup of tea with me. My personal meeting with Putin lasted for about 40 minutes.
“He is still that boy Vladimir for me even now when I see him on television. At the end of the meeting he introduced me to President Katsav. Putin simply told the Israeli president that he would like to introduce his school teacher to him. Katsav asked me where I lived and how Putin studied at school. I did not see Vladimir Putin again after that meeting.”
“Is it true that Putin gave you an apartment later?
“Yes, it is true. I had an apartment before, but I had to walk 50 stairs up and down every time I was leaving and coming back home. It was a very difficult physical exercise for me. Reporters visited me in my flat some time after the meeting with Putin. They were surprised to see that I was living in an old and shabby apartment. Soon after that a person from Moscow knocked on my door. The man told me that Putin is a very noble person who does not forget those who did something good for him. He showed two apartments to me. One of them was a huge and gorgeous one complete with all modern housekeeping technologies. I did not need all that. All I need is a hospital and a drug store nearby. That is why I chose this flat. It is a nice and comfortable place.
“They did everything for me, even the paperwork. I sent Vladimir a short letter – I know that he does not have much time for reading. I remember that I wrote the following: “There is a wonderful word in the Russian language – thank you. I am saying this word to you. Nevertheless, you still remain my most precious gift. I am proud to have such a gift as long as I live. I wish you to have a lot of energy, take care of yourself. I now realize how important this is.”
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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