Students of a prestigious English boys’ boarding school were granted a private audience with the notoriously elusive Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The group of 11 Eton schoolboys beat prime minister Theresa May, who’s travelling for the G20 meeting next week, to meeting and shaking hands personally with Putin in the Kremlin.
Pictures of the meeting were shared on social media by the Eton boys, who appeared respectful and starstruck by the presence of the Russian strongman.
David Wei, who claimed to have planned the meeting, wrote on Facebook (in a post that was later deleted):
“It took me a total of 10 months, 1,040 emails, 1,000 text messages, countless sleepless nights, constant paranoia during A2 exam season, declining academic performance … but here we are. Guys, we truly gave Putin a deep impression of us and he responded by showing us his human face.”
Another schoolboy, Trenton Bricken, of Duke University, said Putin was “small in person but not in presence”:
Eton said in a statement: “This was a private visit by a small group of boys organized entirely at their own initiative and independently of the college.”
A source close to the group told The Sun:
“They didn’t tell anyone they were going. I would assume it was so the school didn’t find out because I don’t think they would be happy.”
“They went last week, I’m not sure on the details entirely, I don’t know who paid for the flights out there. From what I understand, they were talking to him about Eton because he had a keen interest in the college, mainly due to previous politicians in the UK who had attended.
“After they got home, the boys posted the pictures to social media, which I thought was strange because it looked like they had been trying to keep it quiet previously.”I know the boys through friends, who showed me the pictures on social media.”
One of the boys hinted on Facebook that Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, who is believed to be Putin’s personal confessor, helped organize the trip.
Founded in 1440, Eton is a boarding school located near Windsor in southeast England whose tuition is £37,000 ($49,000) a year.
Both foreign minister Boris Johnson and ex-prime minister David Cameron attended Eton.