Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped to his waist to brave the cold waters of a mountain lake as part of a three-day fishing and hunting trip in the Siberian wilderness.
Pictures and video footage released by the Kremlin show Putin – who is also keen on martial arts and ice hockey – spear-fishing, swimming and sunbathing alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“The water in the lake doesn’t get any warmer than 17 degrees,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “but this did not stop the president from going for a swim.”
“He went hunting underwater with a mask and snorkel. The president chased after one pike for two hours, there was no way he could shoot it, but in the end he got what he wanted.”
Where did Putin go on holiday?
In the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia. It is on the Mongolian border, around 3,700 kilometres east of Moscow.
Putin’s ‘strongman’ image
The 64-year-old is renowned for his strong-man publicity stunts, which have contributed to his sky-high popularity ratings.
The trip comes eight months before Russia’s presidential election next March.
Putin has yet to announce he will stand but he is widely expected to run and win.
The Ukrainian president marked his annual holiday by going for a spin in a fighter jet.
Petro Poroshenko revealed in July that Kyiv would begin discussions to meet membership standards for jjoining NATO by 2020.
Russia weighed in quickly and said the prospect of NATO membership for Ukraine would not promote stability and security in Europe.