Putin Pilots Bumpy All-Terrain Rig on Siberian Holiday

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a holiday in Siberia with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, piloted an all-terrain vehicle through thick woodland and traversed a swaying rope bridge, Kremlin footage showed.

Putin routinely appears on state television participating in various outdoor pursuits to project the image of a healthy and robust leader capable of leading the country for many years to come.

His bare-chested exploits have conjured for many Russians an image of Putin, 68, as an in-shape role model.

Video released by the Kremlin from inside an all-terrain vehicle showed the president at the wheel of a vehicle that pulled branches from overhanging trees as it barrelled over snow-laden tracks through dense forests of birch.

The two men were seen trudging through knee-deep snow and inspecting wooden ruins in a barren forest before taking careful steps across a rope bridge over a frozen river.

Putin, who loves to cultivate a virile man-of-action image, was shown in 2017 on holiday with Shoigu spear-fishing in a camouflage wetsuit, piloting a powerboat and catching some rays.

Last year he bestowed a 65th birthday honour on Shoigu, his loyal ally in the Syria conflict and companion on wilderness trips.

Putin sent Shoigu birthday greetings and signed a decree awarding him one of Russia’s highest decorations, the “For Merit to the Fatherland” medal in the first degree.

The PR display comes one month after Putin jailed his loudest critic Alexei Navalny in one of Russia’s most infamous work colonies, a move the opposition figure’s allies and Western countries said was a pretext to silence dissent.

Putin’s previous made-for-TV exploits have not been without controversy.

During a 2011 dive in the Black Sea he allegedly discovered two 15th-century amphoras, a find mocked in the independent media because they were both suspiciously without algae or other sea life.

His spokesman later admitted that the scene had been staged.

Putin poses in sheepskin, drives a military truck and looks at wood on snowy Siberian retreat

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin escaped to the snowy terrains of Siberia with his defence minister Sergei Shoigu at the weekend, where he was spotted dressed all in sheepskin, piloting an all-terrain vehicle through the woodland before carefully traversing a swaying rope bridge.

Images of the apparently laid-back president on his rural retreat came amid increased tensions with the US, whose newly elected president Joe Biden recently said that he believes his Russian counterpart is a “killer”.

In a video released by the Kremlin, the Russian president could be seen behind the wheel of military vehicle traversing the snow-clad terrain of a Siberian birch tree forest. The president, draped in the animal fur, also visited a wood workshop belonging to Mr Shoigu, where the latter showed him his handiwork.

Mr Putin was also photographed posing in knee-deep snow and the two leaders were later seen sitting down together for a cosy meal in the forest with vodka glasses and animal skins to warm their seats.

Mr Putin is known for routinely releasing series of hyper-masculine photos, aiming to project the image of a healthy, strong and robust leader.

He last went hiking in the Siberian forest, for his 67th birthday, in 2019. He was shown then picking wild mushrooms near a spot overlooking the banks of the Yenisei River.

Earlier in 2018, he was photographed bare-chested, plunging into the icy water of Lake Seliger, as a part of a ritual to mark Orthodox Epiphany.

In April 2010, Mr Putin attached a satellite-tracking device on the collar of a tranquillised polar bear.

In 2009, a bare-chested Mr Putin was seen riding a horse in southern Siberia’s Tuva region.

And in 2008, he was captured holding a tranquillised Siberian tiger’s head as scientists fitted it with a tracking device.

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