McFeatters: Russia's supermanly Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin carries a hunting rifle during his

Vladimir Putin carries a hunting rifle during his trip in Ubsunur Hollow in the Siberian Tyva region of Russia. Putin has become alternately notorious and beloved for an array of adventurous stunts, including posing with a tiger cub and riding a horse bare-chested. Photo Credit: AP, 2010

advertisement | advertise on newsday

On top of his other duties, Russian President Vladimir Putin feels compelled to entertain the public. Perhaps it's his way of making it up to his countrymen for having cheated them out of a free election.

He has been photographed hunting and fishing while shirtless -- the guy is in great shape; his duties can't be all that time-consuming. He has ridden in the local equivalent of the annual Sturgis, N.D., motorcycle rally, albeit on a three-wheeler.

He has helped scientists tranquilize and tag polar bears. He has ridden in a supersonic fighter jet. And he has participated in judo exhibitions.

Sometimes Putin's inner P.T. Barnum has gotten the best of him. Last year, he went scuba diving in the Strait of Kerch that connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Conveniently waiting camera crews showed him emerging from the water holding pieces of Greek pottery from the 6th century B.C.

The water was only 7 feet deep and skeptics questioned whether the jugs could have lain there in plain sight for more than 2,500 years. Certainly the public wasn't buying it, but people had a good time laughing at the stunt. A few months later, the Kremlin admitted the fragments had been planted.

This past week, Putin may have topped himself by posing, in a motorized hang glider, as an adult white Siberian crane to teach baby cranes how to migrate.

The lesson of this is we should never begrudge our U.S. leaders the time they spend playing golf, cutting brush or shooting hoops. It could be worse. They could be spending their off hours up in the air with a flock of birds.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Dale McFeatters is a senior writer for the Scripps Howard News Service.

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: