'Action man' Russian president Putin explores shipwreck in latest adventure

CNN
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 9:00pm

 He's fired darts at a gray whale, sped through St Petersburg in an F1 car, and taken a supersonic flight in a bomber jet.

Now Russia's "action man" president, Vladimir Putin, has again flexed his muscle in his latest testosterone-filled publicity stunt diving to the bottom of the Baltic sea aboard a red submersible to explore a 19th century shipwreck.

The 60-year-old former KGB spy, showed no signs of slowing down his manly pursuits for the cameras, plunging 50 meters below the water to examine the frigate which sank in the Gulf of Finland in 1869.

Putin climbed aboard the Sea Explorer 5 underwater research vessel on Monday for a 30-minute dive to the wooden wreck called Oleg which was discovered by divers in 2003.

State television showed images of the Russian strongman carefully inspecting the wreck from the front seat of the glass-fronted capsule.

Putin commented on how well-preserved the wreck was, before also praising the work of the Russian Geographic Society, which has been studying the sunken vessel.

It's not the first time the thrill-seeking president has taken to the water in a bid to highlight his intrepid spirit and physical prowess.

In 2009, Putin dived to the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia aboard a mini-submarine.

Then in 2011 the Russian leader announced he had discovered two ancient urns while scuba diving in the Black Sea. Though, embarrassingly for the president, the Kremlin last year admitted the stunt was staged.

In 2012 Putin also faced accusations from environmentalists that a seemingly wild tiger he tranquilized during a research expedition, had in fact been brought in from a zoo.

Indeed, the pumped-up president's stunts have drawn ridicule online -- last year he earned the nickname "alpha-crane" after flying a deltplane in a mission to lead rare birds on their migration route. 

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