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Vladimir Putin at a meeting with schoolchildren in Vladivostok on September 1, 2021
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Be humble Student corrects Putin after he mixes up the Seven Years’ War and the Great Northern War

Source: Meduza
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with schoolchildren in Vladivostok on September 1, 2021
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with schoolchildren in Vladivostok on September 1, 2021
Sergey Bobylev / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

President Vladimir Putin spent Knowledge Day, September 1, in Russia’s far-eastern city of Vladivostok. There, he met with some of the country’s star schoolchildren, the winners of various academic competitions and educational olympiads. But over the course of their conversation, he made a small mistake. 

While responding to a question from Nikanor Tolstykh, a schoolboy from Vorkuta, Putin got his wars mixed up. The Russian president accidentally said that Peter the Great (Peter I) fought against Sweden in the “Seven Years’ War.”

“Did Peter the First cause the Seven Years’ War? Well, why did he fight the Swedes for seven years? Or even the Battle of Poltava — can you imagine where Sweden is and where Poltava is?”

After Putin finished speaking, Nikanor Tolstykh corrected the president — he recalled that Russia fought Sweden in the Great Northern War, a conflict that lasted for 21 years (from 1700–1721). Putin acknowledged his mistake and thanked Tolstykh for the “small correction.”

Though Putin seemed unbothered by the exchange, the principal of Tolstykh’s school was far from pleased. In an interview with the news site Podyom, Yulia Ryabtseva criticized Nikanor Tolstykh’s actions, attributing his behaviour to his youth, which, she said, implies “a certain arrogance.”

“Probably, this combination of youth, when there’s still a lack of communication with people occupying a position in society, and healthy ambition allowed Nikanor to make an impact. My age would no longer allow me to communicate with the president in this way,” Ryabtseva said.

The principal also lamented the fact that the boy lacked the “modesty” not to correct Putin, saying that this is something “we begin to understand with age.” At the same time, she described Nikanor Tolstykh as “stellar” and a “good boy.”

Tolstykh’s teacher, meanwhile, had nothing but good things to say about him. In an interview with, Elena Groznykh expressed the opinion that the other schoolchildren “kept silent because they didn’t know about the war or were ashamed.” Although she admitted that she herself probably wouldn’t have corrected Putin either.

“The fact that he corrected the president shows that the child can’t cover up something wrong and, in principle, will not lie, it’s a kind of fearlessness,” Groznykh said.

The teacher also noted that Tolstykh does a lot of extra work with his history teacher and said that he may possibly become a teacher himself one day.

Story by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart

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