Putin defies rumours about his health by dipping into freezing waters in -17C temperatures to mark Orthodox Epiphany
- Vladimir Putin is seen immersing himself in icy water in a video released today
- It comes amid rumours regarding the state of the 68-year-old leader’s health
- The ritual was to mark the Epiphany when Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus Chris
Vladimir Putin has defied rumours about the state of his health by taking a dip in icy waters near Moscow to mark the Orthodox Epiphany.
The 68-year-old Russian president looked fit and healthy in tight blue swimming trunks as he dunked in a pool, repeatedly crossing himself, in footage released today.
He was taking part in an annual ritual undertaken by millions of Russians at a time of year when the air temperature sits around -17C (1.4F).
Video showed Putin getting into a cross-shaped pool to carry out the rite opposite an imposing cross made from ice.
‘This is a tradition. He doesn’t betray traditions,’ spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring to the centuries-old practice among Russian Orthodox Christians of cutting holes to immerse themselves in icy lakes and rivers on the day Jesus Christ was baptised in the River Jordan.
Vladimir Putin has defied rumours about the state of his health by taking a dip in icy waters near Moscow to mark the Orthodox Epiphany
The 68-year-old Russian president looked fit and healthy as he dunked in a pool, repeatedly crossing himself, in footage released today
The video released by the Kremlin comes amid rumours over the state of Putin’s health, with some even claiming that the president could quit this year and name a successor.
The Kremlin has strongly denied any rumours regarding alleged medical issues.
One online commenter speculated that the Russian president might have been sending a subtle message through his choice of swimming attire.
‘Pay attention to the colour of Putin’s trunks,’ a person wrote under the video, in a reference to the blue underpants belonging to Alexei Navalny which are believed to be the source of the Kremlin critic’s Novichok poisoning, allegedly at the hands of a Russian intelligence hit squad.
Putin, in tight blue swimming trunks, appeared healthy as he braved a dip in the icy waters
The Russian president was taking part in an annual ritual undertaken by millions of Russians at a time of year when the air temperature sits around -17C (1.4F)
In the video, Putin can be seen in blue swimming trunks with black stripes.
Navalny was handed a 30-day jail sentence on Monday, one day after arriving back in Russia following life-saving medical treatment in Germany.
Russian officials claim he violated the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud by failing to report to a probation office during his convalescence.
After the sentence was delivered, Navalny called on Russians to take to the streets to protest.
Putin braved the chilly waters the day after Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny (right) was jailed for a month following his return to Russia after recovering from Novichok poisoning in Germany
After the sentence was delivered, Navalny called on Russians to take to the streets to protest. Pictured: Navalny flashes the victory sign while being escorted from a Khimski police station to be transported elsewhere on Monday evening
The United States, United Kingdom, France and the European Union are among the Western powers to have called for Navalny’s release after he was arrested at the airport after landing on Sunday.
The jailed opposition leader – who could face further legal action – called via his London-based ally Vladimir Ashurkov, for the West to impose sanctions on Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC, and a number of other Russian figures including ex-Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
Abramovich was ‘one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy, with significant ties and assets in the West’, Ashurkov asserted.
‘Shortly before Alexei flew back to Russia, we had a discussion about why sanctions aren’t working. He said that sanctions aren’t working because the West has refrained from sanctioning the people with the money.
‘It is not enough to sanction the operatives who just follow orders in arresting and assassinating dissidents.
‘The West must sanction the decision makers and the people who hold their money. Nothing less will make an impact on the behaviour of the Russian authorities.’