Not On The First Date: Putin Recoils As Russian Priest Seeks To Kiss His Hand

It appears that after years to clearly cultivating a cult of personality with action-hero photo ops and staged acts, Putin is still uncomfortable with kisses from his subjects . . . well at least on the hand. Putin seemed truly alarmed when a Russian Orthodox priest tried to kiss his hand while visiting a 14th century monastery on Russia’s northern Valaam Island. It was a particularly telling moment after Putin created an alliance with the Church to support his authoritarian government. Putin has particularly pleased the Church leaders after his government continued a widely condemned prosecution of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot after they carried out a brief demonstration in a church.

Putin is notoriously cold and aloof, even with his personal relationships. Even an adoring kiss from the Church appears to have freaked out the man. It is clear Putin likes his adoration fawning but platonic.

The group has been a leading voice against Putin and his crackdown on free speech and civil liberties.

On February 21, 2012, the group took its protests against Putin to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. The Church has been crucial in buttressing the power of Putin in the crackdown on dissidents and free speech. They tried to perform a song and were removed within one minute. The song asked for the Virgin Mary to “chase Putin away.” Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were later charged with “hooliganism”. and the group was hit with an indictment that is 2,800 pages long . . . for an attempted song of less than a minute. Putin’s government has refused to drop the charges despite an international outcry and is seeking three years in jail. They remain behind bars.

That background helps put the kiss in perspective. The Church has made another alliance with a Russian strongman, who has made no secret of his desire to be worshipped. Russian police have charged protesters for simply spitting on his picture as if it were a Russian icon. Russian police continue to round up Putin critics and charge them with an array of different crimes.

The priest’s desire to kiss Putin’s hand captures perfectly the relationship between Putin and the Church. The Russians will be given a heavy dose of old-time religion and authoritarianism as a substitute for lost liberties. For its part, the Church is content with expanding its authority and state-supported restoration and building projects even as he strips their members of basic rights. It is the return to old habits for the Church which once supported the Tsars and opposed the most basic rights for the poor, women, and other groups. What the priest failed to understand is that Putin is not looking for a kiss. He has a more formal relationship in mind with the church as shown left.

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe:

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s dictator’s best friend
A kiss may be grand… but it won’t pay the rental on your humble flat
Or help you at the automat [the autocrat]
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square cut or pear shape these rocks don’t lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl’s dictator’s best friend

21 thoughts on “Not On The First Date: Putin Recoils As Russian Priest Seeks To Kiss His Hand”

  1. It is common practice to kiss the hands of priests in Orthodox Churches.
    It was inappropriate for a monk to be kissing the hand of a layman, which may be why Putin didn’t want the hand kiss.

    Nick so far Russia fought exactly one quick war outside its own borders and cracked down on Chechen within its borders during Putin’s tenure. We have fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya in the same amount of time. Putin doesn’t come off much colder than our own president.

    Ross Peter the Great forced the church under secular authority because it was resisting his reforms.

  2. Technically, Putin should be kissing the priest’s hand, that’s proper protocol for a layman. Kissing the President’s hand has no basis in protocol. That’s true no matter what the political ramifications.

  3. he was not trying to kiss his hand, he was trying to suck the mojo from his strong right arm.

    will no one rid vlad this troublesome priest?

  4. parink, In the abstract I would agree. But in the specific I would rank Putin potentially the most dangerous. I assume you don’t like Netanyahu. I don’t see him as ambtious, just trying to protect his country. You’ll probably disagree.

  5. Oh yes @ nick spinelli; Any President of the U.S. or P.M. of Israel is more dangerous to world peace than Putin.

  6. I think Putin’s reaction is perfectly normal. What kind of individual would want some bearded old stranger putting their germ infested mouth on their hand?

  7. I talked with an Assyrian Christian from Baghdad today.
    He claimed they originally came from Turkey, immigrated to Syria and Iraq (time period).
    The Assyrian church can reasonably claim to be as old as the RCC, I believe. The modern Assyrians speak a version of the same language as Jesus, ie not Hebrew.
    Plus other languages as necessary.

    I wish the Patriarch would help the ones left in Iraq. They, as well as the ones in Turkey, are suffering also persecution from the muslims, of which
    I can give examples recounted to me.

    I know very well several besides the one I talk of above.

  8. shano 1, August 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    The three members of the punk band Pussy Riot played a song attacking Russian leader Vladimir Putin in front of an altar on 21 February.

    A state prosecutor on Tuesday demanded a three-year jail term for three women from the punk band Pussy Riot …
    Free Pussy Now!


    The three members of the punk band Pussy Riot played a song attacking Russian leader Vladimir Putin in front of an altar on 21 February.

    They told the court their performance was a political act, not aimed at hurting the feelings of believers.

    Concern about the case has been voiced by the EU and others.

    Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, could have faced a maximum sentence of seven years.

    They said their performance of the “punk prayer” was a reaction to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, publicly backing Mr Putin in elections.

    Last week, Mr Putin, who was re-elected president in March, called for leniency towards the women during a visit to London for the Olympic Games.

    There are fears among Russian opposition activists that the trial is part of a crackdown on dissent since Mr Putin’s return to the Kremlin, following the biggest anti-government protests in modern Russian history.

    Feelings about the case within Russian society, where the Orthodox Church has enjoyed a revival since the collapse of the atheistic USSR, have been mixed.

  10. Putin’s support for Syria actually is partly because of his ties to the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill. The patriarch is very concerned about Syria’s minority of Christians (who aligned themselves with Assad years ago in return for more security) and their fate if Assad’s government collapses. As the author of the article (see link below) points out, Putin may want to add ‘defender of the faith’ to his title of president, very much like the Queen of England used to (or still does?).
    Putin’s macho image may also somewhat explain his discomfort with a man trying to kiss his hand.

  11. Well unlike the small man leaders of Iran and North Korea, or the Islamic terrorists w/ mostly just hatred as their weapon; Putin is extremely intelligent, incredibly ambitious, and he has a real military and lots of nukes. Putin is cold as ice[I have no idea what W saw “in his soul”], the archetypal KGB man. Plus, he has that small man syndrome. I’m not an anti short man dude, our adopted son from Colombia is short. However, think of how different our history would be if men were all the same height.

  12. Yes, he was KGB. I have long believed he is potentially the most dangerous man in the world.

  13. Rasputin would be elated….he was after all a girls best friend…..

  14. I would like to see an expert on Russian history weigh in on this. My impression based on my own reading is that the Czar’s domination of the Russian Orthodox church was NOT welcomed by the church. It was NOT an alliance made by the church, but something forced on the church by the Czar, I do get the impression that the Russian Orthodox church’s current alliance with Putin is voluntary. How evil and stupid. Have their leaders learned nothing from history? I guess they are like so many of the rest of us who don’t take the time to learn history and also learn nothing from it.

  15. ” The Russians will be given a heavy dose of old-time religion and authoritarianism as a substitute for lost liberties.”


    For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to God, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot. If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you.

    ~Christopher Hitchens

    Nothing really changes.

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