Russian President Vladimir Putin has garnered a reputation for his macho pursuits, inevitably captured on film and transmitted to a doting public.
This latest stunt saw Putin take a ride to the bottom of the sea in order to visit the wreck of an ancient ship which sunk off the coast of the Crimean peninsula, writes Nataliya Vasilyeva for the Associated Press. Russia annexed Crimea last year, setting off a chain of events that have led to serious changes in the geopolitical landscape.
Submersible stunt latest adventure for Putin
On Tuesday, Putin boarded a submersible craft and descended deep under the surface of the Black Sea. The wreck of the Byzantine trading ship lies 83 meters under water, and is thought to date from the 9th or 10th century.
Underwater trips seem to be a favorite of Putin’s, and he has previously explored the Gulf of Finland and Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. He also went scuba diving in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, and returned to the surface with pieces of ancient Greek pottery.
A spokesman later said that the fragments of ancient jugs, also known as amphorae, had been deliberated left in the area before Putin descended.
Putin and officials travel to Crimea
Putin spoke with his Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev via radio as he visited the shipwreck, and told him that the ship could improve knowledge of Russia’s development and show “how deep our historical roots are.”
Putin could later be heard telling Medvedev that he was missing out on the trip. “It’s great, there are lots of objects, amphorae scattered around,” Putin said, before signing off with “Big hug!”
Once he returned to the surface, Medvedev and Putin shared a hug, which also involved the chief of staff and the defense minister. Both officials were part of a large party that traveled to Crimea with Putin.
One reporter dared to ask whether the expensive trip was justifiable given the ongoing economic struggles in Russia, to which Putin replied that his dive should attract donations to the Russian Geographical Society, which is studying “how our state was built, including in this region.”