In December, Mina Yuditskaya-Berliner, 96, a lone widow who made Aliya in 1973, passed a way. Back in Leningrad, she taught German at High School no. 281, where one of her students in 1967-68 was a polite young man named Vladimir Putin.
In the late 1990s, Mina identified her former student on TV, when he stood next to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, as head of Russia’s security service.
Then, in April 2005, before President Putin’s visit to Israel, Mina went to the Russian consulate and asked to be allowed to see her student, and the administrator there thought it was a fabulous idea. So when he arrived, little Vlad Putin made time for his old teacher and they had tea together at the David’s Citadel hotel. According to Mina, who spoke to Ynet in 2014, they had a long conversation – she remembered him as a quiet, shy, blond boy, he remembered her as a courteous, fair and kind teacher.
Among the things she shared with Russia’s strong man, was the fact that she was living in a high floor rental without an elevator, and several weeks after their meeting, a Russian diplomat knocked on her door and took Mina to the new apartment President Putin had bought her – one and a half rooms in a modern building at 17 Pinsker street in Tel Aviv, a few blocks from the beach.
She told Ynet she cried when she found out about the generous gift, which came with a wristwatch engraved “from the president” and a signed copy of Putin’s autobiography.
In her will, Mina Yuditskaya-Berliner, who died on December 17 last year, asked that her apartment be returned to President Putin, which explains the headline to this story. Incidentally, the Russian consulate sent a representative to the funeral and shared in its costs.
So now, if you hurry, you might be able to grab a nice rental, owned by Vladimir Putin in downtown Tel Aviv – unless a million Israelis who read the story this morning have beaten you to the punch.
Finally: whoever gets the lease on the small flat at 17 Pinsker – better not be late with the rent.