Bare-chested Putin takes dip in icy lake for Epiphany

Alexei Konstantinov  TASS

Alexei Konstantinov TASS

More than 1.5 million Orthodox Christians across Russian Federation, including those from the freezing Sakha Republic, participated in this year's mass bathing ritual held on January 18-19.

After taking off a sheepskin coat and felt boots, Putin walked down wooden steps leading into the water, crossed himself and dipped his head under. He wasn't alone. Putin was commemorating the baptism of Jesus in Orthodox Christian tradition. and people do it all over Russian Federation every year.

This is not the first time Putin has taken part in the Epiphany ceremony, although it is the first publicly viewed occurrence, Peskov said.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Putin took the plunge into the frigid waters because "the temperature around the lake was no lower than 6-7 degrees below zero that night".

Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped off to his bathing trunks and immersed himself in the freezing waters of a lake late on Thursday, observing an Orthodox Christian ritual to mark the feast of Epiphany.

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The Russian leader has been spotted as he was surrounded by Orthodox priests.

The devotional moment represented another bare-chested media day for Putin, a leader who oversees a corrupt political system, imprisonment and torture of gays, ongoing harassment of and violence against journalists and apparent involvement in USA election meddling, but also a public relations operation to sustain the mythos of his machismo.

Putin was photographed with his shirt off while on a spearfishing vacation in the southern mountain lake in Siberia.

In August 2009, a bare-chested Putin was pictured riding a horse during a Siberian holiday.

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