Vladimir Putin seems fierce about his conflict with the Ukrainian people, but could an influential figure from his childhood hold on to persuade him to end the war?
As Vladimir Putin continues his relentless barrage against Ukraine, the hope of ending the war may rest on the shoulders of his 88-year-old former teacher.
Vera Dmitriyevna Gurevich had an intense relationship with the Russian President during her school days.
She was a mother figure during Putin’s own battle with psychological trauma and led the young student out of poverty and into education and success.
Putin’s two older brothers died in childhood as their hometown of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) was ravaged by war.
And during the blockade of St. Petersburg, Putin’s mother, Mariya Ivanovna, almost starved to death.
Having fainted from starvation, she was taken to the heaps of corpses that lined the streets where she had remained until she woke up, surrounded by the bodies of fallen men, women and children.
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Putin’s parents lived in a cold communal apartment in a building infested with vermin.
In his memoirs ‘ Vladimir Putin. Parents. Friends. Teachers’, Gurevich recognizes a group of child hooligans who had a “bad influence” on young Putin.
At school, she said he was “very nimble, restless, with boundless energy. He couldn’t sit still, constantly looking in his classmates’ notebooks, left, right and behind , and ducking under his desk to grab a pen or pencil he was dropping all the time.”
Putin fought easily, with Gurevich saying he would “cling to the aggressor, cling to him with all his weight and grab him, fighting like a bulldog”.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In September 1964, Gurevich visited Putin’s vermin-infested building to speak with Putin, then 11 years old.
She soon discovered that he was a locked-up child, left to his own devices all day and without parental supervision until 5 p.m.
He survived on a piece of bread and a bottle of milk or buttermilk, even though his mother had prepared his supper.
She confronted the teenager and said, “Enough of the hassle, take care of the school.
Putin replied that he “could do all his homework in an hour if he wanted”.
Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
It was the motivation he needed, to transform his life to firmly root himself in the right path.
Gurevich, alongside Putin’s judo instructor and mentor, Anatoliy Rakhlin, were the two parental figures that Putin lacked, taking on the role of mother and father.
In return, Putin showed his gratitude by occasionally babysitting Gourevich’s daughters.
He came home when she had to teach late and her husband was on a business trip; sometimes Putin even stayed overnight.
Serious about his education, the future president began to get good grades and went on to study law.
AFP via Getty Images)
Now 69, Putin seems determined to commit genocide against Ukraine with little or no room for peace.
Friends beg his alleged Swiss lover Alina Kabaeva to convince him to end the conflict, but she is in hiding in Switzerland.
Could his former teacher and guide be the answer the world is looking for?
Putin, whose health is believed to be declining, once shared a glimpse of their relationship and admitted he still calls Gurevich to inquire about his well-being.
The couple have been pictured together over the years, still familiar and often greeting each other in a close embrace.
AFP via Getty Images)
The strength of their bond is undeniable, but how much influence does a woman really have on the power-hungry president?
Traditional and old-fashioned, taking the advice of another man – a potential threat, in Putin – is most likely out of the question.
But perhaps Gurevich’s firm instructions, which he idolizes and attributes to his ascendancy, could convince his former pupil to end the violence.