Vladimir Putin's Grandfather Cooked For Lenin, Rasputin, And Joseph Stalin

Like the Soviet-era dictators who came before him, Russia's Vladimir Putin shares several qualities with Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Among these are Putin's brutal repression of his enemies, his ability to consolidate power, and his carefully crafted and controlled public image, per the Express and The Hindu Business Line. But there is also a somewhat bizarre connection Putin has to the dictators who came before him. Putin's paternal grandfather cooked for both Lenin and Stalin.

"(He) was a cook at Lenin's and later at Stalin's, at one of the dachas in the Moscow area," Putin said in a 2018 Russian documentary "Putin" (via Reuters). Putin's grandfather, Spiridon Putin, came from a peasant family in the Tver region, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow, according to "Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft." Born in 1879, he rose to prominence as a chef during the country's tumultuous period that saw the fall of Czar Nicholas II and the Romanov dynasty, World War I, and the Russian revolution.

From Rasputin to Stalin

Spiridon Putin's culinary career included time as the chef at the Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg where he once served Grigori Rasputin, the mystic and court favorite of Czarina Alexandra, the last empress of Russia, per "Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft." Various politicians and reformers used the close relationship between Rasputin and the Czarina to try to bring down the monarchy, which eventually did collapse, paving the way for the Soviets to take power.

Vladimir Lenin took power in November 1917 and consolidated control following a three-year civil war, per History. After moving to Moscow, Spiridon Putin went to work as Lenin's personal chef at one of the Soviet leader's country homes, according to "Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft." After Lenin's death in 1924, Putin served his widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya (and likely spied on her for the secret police), and also worked as a personal chef for the country's next leader, Joseph Stalin. "When grandfather worked with Stalin, my father visited him and was even let into their house and could observe how they lived," Putin said in the documentary, according to Russia Beyond.

Soviet leaders with different appetites  

In the late 1930s, Joseph Stalin began a series of purges that would end in the deaths of tens of millions, including many people close to the dictator, per Britannica. Vladimir Putin believes Stalin didn't purge his grandparents because they "were probably valued for being trustworthy people," he said in the documentary, per Russia Beyond. The two Soviet leaders had very different tastes. Lenin, far from a foodie, had a spartan culinary sense, but Stalin had a prodigious appetite for such things as pickled cheese, spicy soups, and heavy meat dishes, according to Beyond Russia. Spiridon Putin later worked at a Moscow Communist Party rest home before dying in 1965, when Vladimir Putin was 13, per "Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft."

Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for more than two decades, invoked the names of both of his grandfather's bosses in the run-up to his invasion of Ukraine. In a Feb. 21, 2022 speech, just days before Russia invaded its neighbor to the west, Putin claimed that Lenin and Stalin had wrongly given land to Ukraine, per Newsweek.