Vova, She Called Him. Vera N. Putina

3 min readJun 29
Photo by EVGEN SLAVIN on Unsplash

The obituary page of The Economist (6/10/23) brought us the extraordinary story of Putin’s mother.
The lady died recently at age 97 in Metekhi, a village in Georgia, southern Russia.
She had come forward with the claim to being his mother at the age of 73 and four years later a documentary film, ‘Putin’s Mama’, was produced by Ineke Smits.
I have not seen the film and this piece is based solely on the article in The Economist.
We’re told that in his autobiography, Putin does not mention growing up in Metekhi but records show he had attended the local elementary school for three years.
According to Vera Putina, Vladimir was the child of an affair with a married man while she was in college. She didn’t know he was married but the moment she found out she ended the affair.
She raised the child on her own and kept him with her when she later married a soldier.
But the raising of Vladimir — Vova, as she called him — didn’t go well.
The soldier was not welcoming of the young boy and at age 9, Vera Putina sent him off to live with her parents. Due to age or illness of the parents, the arrangement didn’t last and Vladimir was passed on to a military boarding school.
From there he went into the KGB, Russia’s security organization now known as the FSB.
After she sent him to her parents, Vera N. Putina never saw him again.
She is quoted as saying that she was sorry for sending him away and wished Putin had made at least one visit to her village so she could have told him so.
In retrospect, the early trauma of the separation had to have a significant impact on Putin.
Boarding schools, let alone military boarding schools, are not known to be places that foster emotional dialogue conducive to balanced personal development.
We know now a lot more about the importance of parental affection in the shaping of the psyches of our children. Young Vladimir did not benefit from it.
Does that partly explain the ruthlessness of Putin’s political choices?
It does. A nurturing mother instills a sense of empathy in a child. That counts and has lasting effects. A warm environment fosters self control and respect for others.
Putin missed out. And he’s made others pay for it.
The process of electing leaders and entrusting them with making choices on our behalf needs to be vastly improved.
The time has come for would be leaders to submit to psychological examinations prior to running for office.
It is too…


writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs