Maybe it’s because of fears that he is accused of being too closely reliant on the Orthodox Church that Vladimir Putin seemed so horrified when the priest in the above video dared kiss his hand? It could be that Putin does not want to appear to be too Tsar-like, even if his relationship with the Patriarch of Moscow resembles that enjoyed by the Romanovs and their churchmen.
Of course, Putin may also have been put off by the thought of being kissed on the hand by another man – surely, outside clerical circles, it is only proper for grown men (or gentlemen) to kiss the hands of ladies (even if this is a rare sight nowadays)? The Russian leader recoiled in a way that suggested a kind of reactive displeasure or disgust – the kind of thing that happens when someone is either embarrassed or humiliated by the actions of others.
Speaking via Mikhail Shishkov, spokesman for the Valaam Monastery in the Russian Republic of Karelia, which Vladimir Putin visited on Monday, Father Mefody, the hand-kissing priest, said: “I kissed the Russian president’s hand as a token of acknowledgement of the great Russian nation by the small [Macedonian] nation” (see here). Shishkov explained that Mefody is originally from Macedonia, where it is common for the lowly to kiss the hands of their superiors – ecclesiastical or otherwise.
The wonderful human act of kissing is one that can be interpreted and viewed in many different ways: from the sacred to the profane. One thing is for sure, though, if you are ever introduced the manly, ex-KGB, President of Russia, it might be best just to shake his hand!