This photo, posted on the church’s web-site caused a scandal when the site’s editors erased the patriarch’s watch. Photo: AP. Source: Sunday Herald Sun
IT could have been an Easter miracle but the mystery of a “disappearing” $30,000 watch from the wrist of the most senior member of the Russian Orthodox Church has actually been explained by modern technology – and left the church rather red-faced.
In what it described as a “blunder,” the church admitted that an official photograph of Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox Christians, was doctored to show him without the expensive Swiss-made Breguet timepiece, The (London) Times reports.
The watch was first spotted after photographs emerged of the patriarch meeting recently with Russia’s Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov.
When journalists brought attention to it, the patriarch said he only wore a cheap watch given to him by outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev and any pictures of him wearing the Breguet must have been faked.
The mystery then deepened when a photograph – with said watch clearly visible on the patriarch’s wrist – was found on the church’s own website. In an apparent attempt to spare the patriarch’s blushes, staff quickly did some photo-editing to “remove” the watch.
The effort backfired however, with the watch’s reflection remaining clearly visible on the surface of a polished table at which the patriarch was sitting.
A video of the meeting also emerged, clearly showing the Breguet.
After being mocked in various online forums, the church eventually admitted that an over-zealous member of its press department had made a “ridiculous mistake” by manipulating the photograph.
“One of the basic principles of our work,” it said, “is a general refusal to use photographic editing programs to change the appearance of a picture … this question will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be severely punished.”
The church added that the photograph had been restored to its original state and apologized for the “blunder.”
There was no explanation, however, for the patriarch’s original denials.
He has already been the target of widespread criticism after publicly endorsing incoming president Vladimir Putin in last month’s election, calling his 12 years in power a “miracle of God.”