A judo book written by president Vladimir Putin and an influential oligarch will be distributed to millions of schoolchildren in Russia.
The book, a history of the sport entitled Gentle Way, was announced as part of a ceremony in Moscow to unveil Russia’s judo team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
Putin’s co-author was his old friend Arkady Rotenberg, who is chairman of the publishing house involved, Enlightenment, and whose companies have made billions of dollars from state contracts in recent years.
Along with an instructional book called The Art of Judo: From Play to Mastery written by Rotenberg and two judo experts, and 90 laminated cards for training, Putin’s book will be given out this autumn to 7 million schoolchildren in the first to fourth grades, according to Enlightenment’s president, Vladimir Uzun.
He said the books were designed to popularise a healthy lifestyle and be an instrument for “forming athlete fighters and a harmonious personal upbringing”.
“For the authors of the complex, Vladimir Putin, Arkady Rotenberg, Dmitry Chernykh and Alexei Levitsky, judo has become a part of their lives,” Uzun said. “A politician, entrepreneur, teacher, methodologist-academic, they were united by judo and the aspiration to pass on their experience and knowledge to the next generation.”
Awarded the rare eighth dan in judo in 2012, Putin has been practising the martial art since he was a teenager in St Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, when Rotenberg was his sparring partner.
Long known for his displays of sporting prowess, the president has co-authored several judo books, including Judo: History, Theory, Practice and Learning Judo with Vladimir Putin. He joined the Russian judo team for a training session in January and was filmed throwing opponents including coach Ezio Gamba to the mat.
Several of Putin’s old judo partners have gone on to impressive professional success: Gennady Timchenko, US-sanctioned co-founder of energy trader Gunvor Group, has amassed a fortune of $13.3bn (£10bn), and Putin’s former bodyguard Viktor Zolotov was named head of the powerful new national guard in April.
Rotenberg’s companies were awarded at least $7bn worth of contracts for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and he won a $3bn contract to build a bridge between Russia and the Crimea peninsula it annexed in 2014. After a purge of school textbooks in 2014, Enlightenment reportedly won 60%-70% of new textbook contracts.
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