I’ve always found this story strange. Wouldn’t it undermine the legitimacy of the state religion and the leader for a cynical story like this to be spread about? Here it is for those unfamiliar:
“The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths.
The result is described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench. He also reported that Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork. Vladimir remarked on the occasion: "Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure.”
Ukrainian and Russian sources also describe Vladimir consulting with Jewish envoys and questioning them about their religion, but ultimately rejecting it as well, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence that they had been abandoned by God.
His emissaries also visited pre-schism Latin Rite Christian and Eastern Rite Christian missionaries. Ultimately Vladimir settled on Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In the churches of the Germans his emissaries saw no beauty; but at Constantinople, where the full festival ritual of the Byzantine Church was set in motion to impress them, they found their ideal: "We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth", they reported, describing a majestic Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia, "nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it." Vladimir was impressed by this account of his envoys.”
Source: reddit post