Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Patriarch's Watch

A sharp-eyed member of the Russian bologosphere has swept the head of the Russian Orthodox Church up in a photo controversy. 

The church published a photograph of their spiritual head, Patriarch Kirill, at a meeting, but a blogger noticed something odd.  Taking a close look, they realized that the Patriarch's $30,000  gold Breguet watch had been airbrushed off his wrist, but that a reflection of the watch was still visible in the highly-polished surface of the table where Patriarch Kirill was seated. 

At first, the church denied that the Patriarch was wearing such an expensive watch, then they removed the photo from their official website, before finally admitting to the manipulation.  The Russian Orthodox Church then went on to condemn the digital manipulation of images of the Patriarch adding that “the guilty ones will be punished severely.”  Though Patriarch Kirill himself denies that expensive gold watches are a part of his official attire, another photo of the Patriarch wearing the same $30,000 Breguet while posing with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was also published this past February.

So what's so important about the Patriarch's choice of wristwatch?  Perhaps not a lot, but it is worth noting that after the Russian punk band Pussy Riot's impromptu “punk prayer” performance late last February at Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral, they claimed part of their motivation was because the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church wore watches worth $40,000 – several years wages for many average Russians.  Two of Pussy Riot's members remain in jail facing charges of inciting religious hatred stemming from the performance, which could earn them seven years in prison.
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