ANSA English Media Service
April 29, 2005
MIDEAST: PUTIN MAKES EMOTIONAL VISIT TO JERUSALEM
By Alessandro Logroscino
(ANSA) - MOSCOW, April 29 - Long minutes of solitary
meditation in the Holy Sepulchre basilica, deep emotion at the
Yad Vashem Museum, these are moments of President Vladimir
Putin’s visit to Jerusalem on the eve of the Orthodox Easter
which this year is on May 1.
Putin first met the director of the Yad Vashem Museum,
Shevach Weiss, who accompanied him in the halls of the museum
dedicated to the Holocaust.
“Nobody has ever been as emotional as Putin,” Weiss said.
The people who accompanied the Russian President during is
visit tothe Holy Land seemed just as touched.
The trip has many surprising aspects, according to what
Andrei Kolesnikov, the most famous journalist following the
President’s visit, wrote on the pages of opposition newspaper
Putin decided to make his visit as soon as he arrived from
Cairo despite the fact that it was already dark.
The Holy Sepulchre basilica had already been closed when
Putin arrived and was opened especially for him. Putin
immediately stood in front of the plate on which Jesus’ body had
been laid down and prayed for ten minutes, much longer than
An Armenian priest led him to the hole worshipped as the one
where Christ’s cross had been fixed. Here the President again
wanted to remain alone and knelt down.
A priest approached him some time later to tell him that it
was probably time to go.
Putin followed the priest but then told him to wait, went
back and knelt down again, loosened his tie and put a small
crucifix, a gift from his mother which he has been wearing for
years, in the hole.
It took longer before Putin left the basilica, which keeps
precious gifts from Russian tsar Alexander III, and headed for
the residence of the Orthodox archimandrite who represents the
Moscow Patriarchate in the Holy Land.
This short stop preceded Putin’s last visit during his stay
in Jerusalem, a pilgrimage to the Western Wall. (ANSA).