by Sandeep Yadav: Every nation has its founding myths and narratives, usually starring historical figures we know almost nothing about; absurd stories even to the schoolchildren to whom they are usually peddled. Think Alfred and the cakes or Robert the Bruce and his study of spiders. For Russia, it has long been Grand Prince Vladimir, who had 800 concubines and wives before choosing Christ over Muhammad at the end of the first millennium for the very Russian reason that Islam did not permit alcohol. In truth, Vladimir (or Volodymyr to the Ukrainians) is a classic founding figure, now a saint, about whom almost nothing is known. Yet according to President Putin, unveiling a monstrous statue to him in 2016, he “gathered and defended Russia’s lands… by founding a strong, united and centralised state”.