Putin’s ‘paradise’ in Germany drinking 3 litres of beer a week

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Decades before Vladimir Putin became the Russian President and waged a war in Ukraine, he spent five years in Dresden, East Germany, where he was stationed while working for the KGB. At 33 years old, Putin and his now ex-wife Lyudmila moved with their daughter, Maria, to the city where he carried out “pretty routine work” gathering intelligence, according to the 2000 book, First Person. Although the work may have been mundane, Putin thoroughly enjoyed living in Germany — and the beer that came with it — to the point where he was “moved” when talking about his time there.

The Putin family moved to Dresden in the mid-Eighties and enjoyed a “higher standard” of life than in Russia, living in a prefabricated Communist block of flats during the final years of the Cold War.

Boris Reitschuster, Putin’s German biographer, told the BBC in 2015 of his time in Dresden: “He enjoyed it very much, this little paradise for him.”

As a young KGB officer, Putin would unwind by drinking beer, especially at the Am Thor pub, which up until a few years ago, had a shrine dedicated to him.

The now 70-year-old is said to have drank three litres of beer a week which took its toll on his physical health, as he confessed that while living in Dresden, he put on some 13 kilogrammes.

His favoured tipple was Radeberger, and he once went to the German town where it was first made in 1872 to visit the brewery.

This fondness for German beer never left him, with the former First Chancellor Angela Merkel supplying him with a few bottles occasionally in the past.

However, the days of drinking at the Am Thor are truly long behind him as he was banned from the establishment last year, according to the German newspaper Bild.

Putin also enjoyed spending hours pouring over Western mail-order catalogues, reading about different fashions and trends, his former KGB colleague, Vladimir Usoltsev, told the BBC.

In fact, he enjoyed many of the joys of Western life with the Red Army Faction often being told to bring him items from West Germany, such as a stereo.

Putin biographer and critic, Masha Gessen, also told the BBC: “The Red Army faction funded some of its activities through theft and robbery and he said that when they would steal cars in West Germany, they would remove the stereo and take it to East Germany for Putin as a gift and he absolutely loved it.”

His time in Dresden will always be significant to him, particularly as his second daughter, Katerina, was born there in 1986.

This fondness for Germany came through when Mr Reitschuster spoke to him as Putin described himself as “close to” the country.

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Mr Reitschuster said: “It was one of the very few moments when he seemed a little bit emotional and touched. He said, ‘oh my daughter said her first words in Germany. I’m very close to this country’. You could see that he was moved.”

While Putin may have been taken with the beer scene, Lyudmila, to whom he was married for three decades, was impressed with the standard of living in what was then the German Democratic Republic (GDR) compared to that of Soviet Russia, particularly when it came to cleanliness.

In an interview, she said: “Of course life in the GDR was very different from life in Russia. The streets were clean, they would wash their windows once a week.

“The Germans were very orderly in their daily life. Their standard of living was higher than ours, I think the GDR states security people got higher salaries than our guys, judging from how our German neighbours lived.”

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