Eton boys given private audience with Vladimir Putin

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L front) during a meeting with pupils from Eton College - 25 August 2016 Image copyright Tass/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Putin showed "his human face" during the meeting, one of the boys said.

A group of boys from Britain's prestigious Eton College have met Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the Kremlin.

The rare meeting, held in a state room, apparently lasted at least an hour, during which Mr Putin discussed world affairs with the 11 boys.

One of the boys present, David Wei, said on Facebook he had sent more than 1,000 emails to set up the meeting.

He said Mr Putin, renowned as a tough leader, had shown "his human face".

Photos of the event were posted on social media, showing the group shaking hands with Mr Putin and sitting around a table listening to the Russian leader, wearing translation headsets.

Later, they posed for an informal group photo, apparently in an ante room, celebrating their success in gaining access to the Kremlin's inner sanctum.

'Sleepless nights... paranoia'

David Wei said in his Facebook post: "It took me a total of ten months, 1040 emails, 1000 text messages, countless sleepless nights, constant paranoia during A2 exam season, declining academic performance...but here we are. Guys, we truly gave Putin a deep impression of us and he responded by showing us his human face."

Another of those present, Trenton Bricken, said on Facebook: "Two hour meeting with President Putin. He was small in person but not in presence."

The boys are said to have arranged the visit on their own initiative but details remain unclear.

One suggestion was that the meeting had been facilitated by Father Tikhon Shevkunov, a Russian Orthodox abbot said to be close to Mr Putin, who reportedly spoke at Eton earlier this year.

The school, which was founded in 1440 and has educated 19 British prime ministers, said in a statement: "This was a private visit by a small group of boys organised entirely at their own initiative and independently of the college."

The Kremlin has not commented.

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