LONDON: Russian President Vladimir Putin may have a reputation of not being the most accessible politician but 11 schoolboys from one of Britain's most prestigious schools were able to secure a rare private audience with him.
The Eton College students flew to Moscow and met Putin at the Kremlin last week, a development being described as a coup by the UK media as they seem to have beaten Prime Minister Theresa May in the process.
The new British Prime Minister is yet to meet the Russian President since she took charge at Downing Street last month. David Wei, one of those present at the meeting, wrote on Facebook: "It took me a total of 10 months, 1,040 emails, 1,000 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." While their pictures have been posted on social media showing the group shaking hands with Putin and sitting around a table listening to the Russian leader through translation headsets, the Kremlin has released no information about the meeting and the UK Foreign Office has declined to comment.
"This was a private visit by a small group of boys organised entirely at their own initiative and independently of the college," Eton College said in a statement.
The details of how the teenagers managed to pull off this coup remains a mystery. One suggestion is that the meeting may have been facilitated by Father Tikhon Shevkunov, a Russian Orthodox abbot said to be close to Putin who reportedly spoke at Eton earlier this year.
Eton College in Windsor dates back to 1440 and has the distinction of being the alma mater of 19 British Prime Ministers.