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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Secrets of Putin Athos: the Holy mountain of the President are to be tested


In Greece, as you know, everything is there. With the exception of Vladimir Putin. But now this problem has been resolved. The Russian President arrived in Athens with the first foreign visit, thereby highlighting that despite the mutual grievances and resentment, the relationship with Europe remains a priority for the Kremlin.


photo: Natalia Gubernatorova

Greece, as, indeed, and Russia, the economic hardship is no stranger. Since gaining independence in 1830, the country is periodically on the brink of default, and from 1940-ies is a regular recipient of foreign aid.

Men have been trying to pull the Greek economy out of debt! All not for the future. Modern Greeks are clearly regard themselves as descendants of the Epicureans, and not accustomed to the economy and the restrictions of the Spartans.

Already then it became clear that accession to the Euro zone, Greece did not meet any one of the required criteria of the statistical data was rigged. And now to pay for the mistake you have both sides. The Greeks – hard reforms, not peculiar to their relaxed natures, the EU – money without which the country will once again be under the threat of default.

Good feelings to Vladimir Putin – and as was made clear to the correspondent of “MK” – the test most people on the streets of Athens, in such a situation is easily explained. First, it is not dependent on EU and US policy, and secondly he knows how to say “no”. “Say Putin I love him” (“Tell Putin that I love him”) – asked the woman who sells water close to the Acropolis. According to the latest Gallup poll on Russia and its leadership have a positive attitude 35% of Greeks (a true record for European countries), whereas a similar feeling to the EU experience, only 23% of respondents.

Officials of Greece, of course, were more restrained in the expression. But they are quite frankly stressed the special nature of relations between the two Orthodox Nations. It is noteworthy that every step of the Russian leader since his arrival to the airport of Venizelos, the Greek national broadcast TV. First

Putin met with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos – whose power, apparently, to his great happiness, is symbolic. “This was a courtesy visit, nothing more”, – explained in the Protocol.

At the time of signing the numbers, Putin talked with the real leader of Greece – Prime Minister Andreas Tsipras. Since their last meeting in June 2015 in St. Petersburg, an enfant terrible (so the eye called Tsipras dazed from the pressure of the European officials) has changed – he no longer threatens to secede from the EU and forced to carry out unpopular among the population the reform in exchange for the 86 billion euros of financial assistance.

The main topics of bidirectional negotiations are joint projects in energy and military-technical cooperation, as well as the participation of Russian companies in the privatization of Greek assets.

It is expected that in the evening, Putin for example, Obama will meet with Greek opposition. However, the local Bulk of the leader “New democracy” of Kyriakos of Mitsotakis can be called a stretch. This party for many years was the main political force in the country, and lost only the left radical on the wave of social protests. Experts believe that Putin is doing the right thing: the government in Greece may change in any moment, it is possible that in the next election victory will once again win the right.

Meanwhile on mount Athos are in full swing preparations for Saturday’s visit of Russian President. To arrange it is not easy – primarily because of the inaccessibility of the Holy place. Residents of the monastic Republic on mount and now there are 20 monasteries-17 are Greek, one Russian – St. Panteleimon, Serbian and Bulgarian) more than anything I’m afraid of tourists, so land access is difficult the Holy mountain – no access roads, in addition to wild trails used by the monks, is not here.

In 2001, Putin made overtures to the mount Athos from the air, but was prevented by unusual local snow storm: helicopter pilots and the FSO said in unison that fly unsafe.

In 2004, to the monastery pier from Turkish Izmir went Navy ship “Yamal”. Again, no luck: the President had to change plans because of the seizure of the school in Beslan. GDP is now again planning to send to the monks on the helicopter: the benefit at the end of may in Greece is not the case of weather surprises.

About the usual motorcade Putin temporarily have to forget. Usually the guests (and here, for example, often comes Prince Charles) find machines at the disposal of the monasteries, – the usual legkovushki, SUVs, used vans.

Last time (and the GDP still managed to get to mount Athos in the autumn of 2005) among the greeters was a donkey, which ran next to the car of the President almost to the entrance to Hazel – the capital of the monastic Republic. By the way, Putin, and ordinary pilgrims, you need to get permission to visit mount Athos. It is strictly for 4 days and can be cancelled any time without explanation.

The Protocol of such visits were also strictly regulated. According to presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, the head of state first visited the main temple of mount Athos – assumption of the blessed virgin Mary, then meet with members of the Kinot (the so-called government of mount Athos) and will perform in front of them.

Coming up next is a visit to the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon, which is from karyes best be reached by boat. (And that’s another headache for FSO!)

Here it will meet Patriarch Kirill and the ringing of the largest in the Balkans bells. The President will go to prayer service at the Cathedral of the great Martyr Panteleimon, which houses the Saint’s head, and will deliver an address on the occasion of the Millennium of the Russian monasticism on mount Athos.

Private program of the visit includes communication with the Athos elders, as well as joint meal. Anything special to prepare for Putin is not expected – in the last visit, the service Protocol was convinced that the quality and taste of organic food is not inferior to the monastery of the Kremlin’s high standards. By the way, in 2005 the GDP was so pleased with the local Cahors that since it is specifically purchased for the Kremlin (on the bottles even had an inscription of “Official purveyor to the Moscow Kremlin) and treat visitors to Russia of foreign leaders.

Putin will feed Mediterranean seafood – the monks have their own fishing.

In the foreign press regularly reports that in fact the Putin’s visit to Athos almost every year – it’s just that these trips are not advertised. Supposedly here he is fueled by life energy and gets the blessing to fight external and internal enemies…

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