FYI, story in today's Wall Street Journal at http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2012/04/05/russian-orthodox-church-confesses-to-doctoring-patriarchs-photo/?mod=WSJBlog&mod=emergingeurope:
Russian Orthodox Church Confesses to Doctoring Patriarch’s Photo
By Richard Boudreaux
The Russian Orthodox Church insists that its leader has nothing to hide. But someone controlling the Church’s website this week doctored an official photograph to obscure the wristwatch Patriarch Kirill wore during a 2009 meeting with Russia’s justice minister.
An eagle-eyed blogger spotted the photo on the site Wednesday and posted it on his Facebook page as proof of a cover-up.
The evidence: A reflection of the watch is clearly visible on the polished wood surface of the table where the religious leader rested his hands. Whoever was trying to hide the watch forgot to erase the reflection as well.
On Thursday, as the deceptive photo spread over the Internet, the church confessed.
The tampering was “a silly mistake” and “crude violation of our ethics” by a young photo technician employed by the patriarchate but acting on her own, a church statement said.
The photo was removed from the church site Thursday and replaced by the original undoctored version. “We have nothing to be ashamed of,” a spokesman, Alexander Volkov, said in a radio interview.
The tampering followed a renewed claim last week that Kirill’s watch is a Swiss-made Breguet worth more than $30,000. The claim first surfaced after bloggers studied photos of the religious leader during a 2009 visit to Ukraine. Kirill denied in a radio interview last week that he wears such a watch, calling the alleged photographic evidence a fake. He said his timepiece is a gift from President Dmitry Medvedev — “an inexpensive watch with a coat of arms, small and neat.”
Some bloggers wrote that the watch erased from the photo did not resemble the description of the president’s gift.
The Church is the target of mounting criticism in Russia over its wealth, the lavish lifestyle of its senior clergy and their claims that Russian values are under attack from the West. The criticism has grown in the weeks since church leaders supported Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s election as president and jail sentences for members of a feminist punk band for performing an anti-Putin song in Russia’s main cathedral.
Kirill is embroiled in a dispute involving a VIP apartment in a landmark building near the Kremlin that is registered in his name and occupied by a female relative. She is suing a neighbor for about $700,000, claiming that repair work caused her apartment to be filled with dust. The sum has raised eyebrows in Russia. The Church has called the case a private matter.