United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are holding a meeting today in Finland. While Trump has a Rocket Man CD that he said he will be giving to North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, it is not known if he has a gift for Putin. A few years ago, Putin reunited with a former teacher of his who was Jewish. Who was the teacher and what gift did Putin give to him/her?
A. When Putin visited Israel in 2005, he was reunited with his 9th grade German teacher, Mina Yuditskaya Berliner, who had emigrated to Israel in 1973. When Berliner heard that Putin would be coming to Israel, she contacted the Russian Embassy and asked if she could see Putin while he was in the country. She was invited to a meeting that was being held at Putin’s hotel, along with a group of World War II veterans. Putin then invited Berliner to a private tea where they reminisced. Following that meeting, Putin arranged to buy her an apartment in Tel Aviv.
B. In 2014, Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Among the athletes from Israel who competed was figure skater Alexei Bychenko, whose family had emigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union. Bychenko’s grandfather Anatoly joined him for the games. Advance contacts were made by the Israeli embassy to Putin’s office, informing them that the elder Mr. Bychenko would be in attendance, and that he had been Putin’s physical education coach in high school in 1969. Putin arranged to meet Anatoly Bychenko in a private suite at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, where the opening ceremonies were held. At that meeting, Putin gave Mr. Bychenko a pass to sit in the presidential box seats for all of the Olympic games.
C. In 2014, Putin visited Belarus for a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. At the meeting, he reconnected with Iosif Goshkevich, an advisor to Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko. Goshkevich had previously been a professor of Putin’s at Leningrad State University Law School. Putin presented Goshkevich with a signed and framed copy of the Constitution that had been adopted by Russia in 1993, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Goshkevich had served as an advisor to the commission that drafted the Constitution.
D. In 2005, Putin visited Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. When plans were being made for that meeting, one of Sharon’s intelligence aides, Moshe Avraham, informed Sharon that his father, Yuri Abramovich, who had emigrated to Israel in 1975, had been Putin’s history teacher at Saint Petersburg High School. The Prime Minister’s office notified Russian officials of this connection, and Mr. Abramovich was invited to a reception in Putin’s honor at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli president’s residence. At that event, Putin presented Mr. Abramovich with a copy of his autobiography, First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President, which he autographed and inscribed, “To Mr. Abramovich, who taught me why history matters.”
E. In high school, Putin was a loner until a faculty member, Grigory Krivitsky, suggested that he join the A/V club, which Krivitsky advised. Putin learned how to thread and run the 16mm movie projector and how to set up the sound equipment for school theater productions. This first exposure to electronics served Putin well when he later went to work for the KGB, where he eventually became the First Chief Directorate in counter-intelligence. In 2010, Putin attended his 40th high school reunion, where he was reunited with Krivitsky. Putin presented Krivitsky with a sample of his electronic undercover work, a mix tape DVD that Putin had put together, including “The Best of Hillary’s Emails” and “Trump’s Wild Night at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.”