‘Macho’ Vladimir Putin: the Russian president in pictures

Putin heads into the wild with defence minister

Vladimir Putin has gone mountain climbing and foraging in the Siberian wilderness to celebrate his 67th birthday.

The Russian president was joined by defence minister Sergei Shoigu as they went about picking lingonberries, mushroom and pinecones.

“We've climbed above the clouds,” he gasped, gazing into the distance while clutching a large wooden stick.

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The fair were seen laughing together at their attempts to collect pinecones, as they enjoyed some time alone in Tuva, a remote region of Russia on the Mongolian border.

The photos and videos were released by the Kremlin, who say they were taken a few days ago. Putin’s actual birthday - 7th October - was spent “in nature with relatives and friends”.–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues free–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Many leaders from post-Soviet states congratulated Putin on his birthday, along with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic.

Putin often celebrates his birthdays with other controversial world figures. Last year he celebrates his birthday at a seaside residence with Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, reports The Telegraph.

He has previously marked the day with Xi Jinping of China, enjoying vodka and plenty of sausages.

Fans of Putin will note with disappointment that - in a departure from previous photo opportunities - the president chose to keep his chest under his clothes on this occasion.

Since coming to power in 2000, he has appeared to pursue several other “macho” exploits: flying with cranes, fixing an electronic tracker to a polar bear and shooting a tiger with a tranquilliser. Ahead of the 2007 parliamentary elections, the Kremlin seemed particularly keen on showcasing his shirtless body.

In 2013, the Kremlin’s chief doctor revealed that Putin distrusts medicines and instead keeps in good health by using traditional folk remedies such as tea with honey, massages and saunas.

Two years later, his press secretary denied rumours that the president had fallen ill and declared that his handshake “is so strong he breaks hands with it”.

On the surface, the images are part of an “increasingly sinister personality cult” the Kremlin has cultivated around him, says The Economist.

While most people are unlikely to be taken in by the macho stunts, they still represent another source of power: the Kremlin’s ability to disregard the truth if it so chooses, which has become one of Putin’s main tools of statecraft, says the newspaper.

Click on the gallery above for more images.

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