In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s high school teacher in Tel Aviv received a gift apartment from Russian-Israeli businessman Roman Abramovich.
President of the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities, Rabbi Alexander Barada, said that he was the one who encouraged Abramovich to purchase the property for Mina Yuditskaya Berliner, who gained notoriety in 2005 when she was revealed to be Putin’s teacher.
According to Ynet, between 1967 and 1968, Putin was a student of Berliner at High School #281 in Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad), where she taught German. After finishing college, he proceeded in a different direction while Berliner moved to Israel, neither of them ever thinking their paths would intersect again. According to an interview she gave Ynet in 2014, Berliner said that when she learned he would be in Israel in April 2005, she went to the Russian embassy to provide her contact information.
Barada said that Berliner’s public housing building lacked an elevator, had a leaky ceiling, and that she resided on the fourth level. Upon his return to Russia, Barada solicited his benefactors’ assistance to purchase an apartment for her in Tel Aviv.
To keep in contact with Berliner, the federation, according to Barada, arranged for a rabbi from Tel Aviv to pay her regular visits and send her matzah for Passover. Barada claims that in Berliner’s will, he stipulated that Barada or the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia inherit Berliner’s 1.5-bedroom flat on Pinsker Street in the heart of Tel Aviv. In the end, Berliner willed her flat to the Russian Embassy.
Barada claims that despite having thousands of pupils, Berliner remembers everyone, including Putin.
The Washington Post reports that Berliner received a wire transfer of $245,000 from a Cyprus-based business owned by Abramovich on the same day she bought a tiny flat in the heart of Tel Aviv.