Aside from snowmobiling, alpine skiing, piloting a motorboat and most recently, scuba diving, it appears that Russian Prime Minister and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin has one more extreme thing in common with James Bond: his acting ability.
On the recent scuba expedition, during which he was photographed dredging up an amphora from the floor of the Black Sea, Putin was clad in a wetsuit and full diving gear as he emerged victoriously with the ancient pot, declaring “it’s my trophy.” But in a press conference on Tuesday, Putin’s staff revealed, somewhat unsurprisingly, that the aquatic bid for attention was in fact staged.
(PHOTOS: Vladimir Putin: Action Figure)
“Look,” admitted Dimitri S. Peskov, the president’s press secretary, on the web-based Dozhd TV. “Putin did not find an amphora that had been lying on the bottom for many thousands of years. That is obvious.”
NewsFeed is inclined to agree, but the conclusion isn’t quite as obvious from photos alone. Putin’s publicity stunts, an annual occasion during his vacations away from the Kremlin and more common in recent months, have been a staple during his tenure as a leader in Russia.
But according to Russian pollsters at the Levada Center, the stunts aren’t just for show: Putin’s popularity ratings stopped their dive as soon as he did. Though still despised by the Russian elite, a majority of citizens support his return to office. An editorial from Gazeta.ru, an online newspaper often critical of the government, chalks those sentiments up to a leader-as-father-figure mentality, a notion the public was familiar with before fall of the Soviet Union. A Russian leader “is the single hope and buttress,” of the people, and a he-man Putin is one the public is comfortable relying on.
Whether false or real, though, Vladimir Putin: Action Hero never fails to amuse. Especially when the “trophy” is furry.