The wristwatch shot seen 'round Russia

Wristwatch of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Every day on World Now, we choose a remarkable photo from around the globe. If you've seen some of our past picks, you might be wondering: What's so special about this shot from Russia?

As it turns out, this humdrum photo from 2009 has become the buzz of Russia because of one little detail: the wristwatch worn by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

The church leader has been criticized for flashing an expensive watch, believed to be a Breguet that sells for about $30,000, the Associated Press reports. He told Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyev that he never wore such a timepiece, only "an inexpensive Russian-made watch," RIA Novosti reported.

A photo of Kirill with a wristwatch popped up on the church website this week, but later in the week the watch was missing from the shot, apparently doctored out. Russian bloggers spotted the switch, noting that although the watch had been edited out, its reflection on the shiny tabletop had not.

Here's a screen shot from a Russian blog that juxtaposes the two photos from the church website:

Russianblogkirill

The press service for Patriarch Kirill reportedly apologized Thursday for a "silly mistake" made by photo editors. Russia Today quoted the service as saying a 24-year-old female employee "acted out of stupid, unjustifiable and unauthorized initiative" in editing the photo.

Kirill has faced scrutiny beyond his fashion choices: The church has also been criticized for not speaking out against the incarceration of a punk rock band that was jailed after its surprise "punk prayer" against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in an Orthodox cathedral, the Associated Press reported.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: In this July 3, 2009, photo taken from the website of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, right, meets with Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov in Moscow. The photo, posted on the church website, caused an uproar when bloggers pointed out that the wristwatch had been erased in another version of the shot. Credit: Associated Press / Patriarchia.ru 

 
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