Was Putin Born In Georgia?

Because so much is unknown about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his past (or his present for that matter), any rumor will be picked up and spread. One that makes an appearance every so often is the story that Vladimir Putin was born to a woman named Vera in a Georgian village.  A longer version of the story recently showed up in a German publication.

I cannot remember where I first read the Vera Putina story.  I won’t say I wasn’t skeptical.  But I do think any theory at this point has validity due to the mysterious way that Russia is governed.

The Kremlin is clearly lying about some of the more pertinent aspects of Putin’s background.  That is their prerogative.  Vladimir Putin was a product that needed to be sold to the Russian people in 1999.  One way that this was done was through a book that was co-authored by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s current press secretary, Natalia Timakova, and published after Putin became president of Russia.  The book, entitled “In the First Person” [I’ve linked to an excerpt here], is a series of interviews where Putin recalls his past.

The story people seem to find particularly compelling these days is the rat in the stairwell story.

In a book of interviews published when he first became Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin told a story of his early scares: a rat he had cornered had nowhere to go and jumped out at him. Having pushed himself into a corner, Mr Putin is now playing out his childhood nightmare.

Whether or not the narrative is true, it has recently been used by several different authors as a way to persuade people that Putin will lash out in response to any pressure placed on him.

Because a cornered prey is unpredictable. A memorable passage from Mr. Putin’s 2000 quasi autobiography, “First Person,” tells you everything you need to know. Growing up in a dilapidated Leningrad apartment building, Mr. Putin used to chase rats with sticks. “Once I spotted a huge rat and pursued it down the hall until I drove it into a corner,” he recounted. “It had nowhere to run. Suddenly it lashed around and threw itself at me. I was surprised and frightened. Now the rat was chasing me.”

Back in Georgia, the authors of the recent article write:

That Putin is capable of lying to the public has been widely apparent at least since the annexation of Crimea. But does the Russian president also use the political tool of deception when it comes to his own mother? Or is this old woman, who still lives in Georgia today, merely spreading a conspiracy theory?

wladimir-putin-mutter-sohn-10-zmo-medium

The body language of the boy in the photo above on the right indicates that he is unfamiliar with the woman he is sitting with.  If the age is correct, this would be about the time he would have been sent to his ‘new parents’.

Several people have died, supposedly to suppress this story.  This makes it at least appear that there is something to hide.  But what?

One thing that has struck me about the Georgia story are the many parallels to Stalin:

  • The adopted family (Stalin was widely rumoured to be illegitimate);
  • the birth in Georgia (the village of Metekhi is only 18km from Stalin’s birthplace of Gori, and is in the same region);
  • even the detail of a handicap that makes it difficult to use one arm (Stalin was allegedly injured when his father beat him, while Putin cannot splay one hand for unknown reasons).

None of this is proof of anything, of course, but in such an opaque system any theory bears an in-depth examination.

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