Gone fishing: Russia's Putin bares chest on Siberian lake trip

MOSCOW (Reuters) - 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, the Kremlin said.

Putin, 64, 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 and, though he has yet to announce his candidacy, Putin is widely expected to run and to win comfortably.

The hunting and fishing expedition took place on Aug. 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, on the Mongolian border, some 2,300 miles east of Moscow.

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Putin bares chest on Siberian lake trip
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Putin bares chest on Siberian lake trip
Russian President Vladimir Putin relaxes after fishing during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) float in a boat while they fish during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rest during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rows a boat during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin swims during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares for snorkeling during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is snorkeling during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rests after swimming during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin swims during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin swims holding a fish he caught during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for a photo during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rest during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for a photo during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rest during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rest after fishing during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a fish he caught during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
President Vladimir Putin holds a pike he caught during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin fishes during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rest after fishing during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of the Republic of Khakassia Viktor Zimin fish during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu fish during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin catches a fish during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin controls a boat during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ride a boat during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin drives a boat during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for a photo during the hunting and fishing trip which took place on August 1-3 in the republic of Tyva in southern Siberia, Russia, in this photo released by the Kremlin on August 5, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Pictures and video footage released by the Kremlin on Saturday showed Putin - who is also a keen practitioner of martial arts and ice hockey - spear-fishing, swimming and sunbathing alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"The water in the lake doesn't get warmer than 17 degrees, but this didn't stop the president from going for a swim," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

"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."

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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