Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the Orthodox Christian feast of the Epiphany by taking a dip in freezing water with air temperature being -17C (1.4F) on Tuesday. In a video released by Kremlin pool reporters from RIA Novosti news agency, Putin can be seen in good shape, looking fit in tight blue swimming trunks going into a cross shaped pool and crossing himself every time before he takes a dip in the icy cold waters near Moscow. He dunked in the freezing pool thrice, opposite a cross made from ice, before hurriedly exiting the water.
The video put a stop to the rumours regarding his state of health. Some were claiming that he could quit this year and name a successor. In November 2020, Professor Valery Solovei, a critic who claims to have sources in Kremlin, had stated that Putin is suffering from Parkinson’s and also hinted that the president underwent a surgery for cancer in February 2019.
However, The Moscow Kremlin has denied all the rumours surrounding his deterring health and medical issues. On November 19, The Kremlin was forced to issue a clarification for Putin’s health after he suffered a coughing fit during a televised meeting on air.
Dmitry Peskov, president’s spokesperson, while talking to reporters said that this is a tradition and he (the president) doesn’t betray traditions. In Russia, there is a century old tradition among Russian Orthodox Christians to dip themselves in icy rivers or lakes to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan to celebrate the feast of Epiphany.
President, braving the cold icy waters, was last seen on January 19, 2018 in a video where he can be seen dipping in freezing waters in his trunks. Since then, his Epiphany dips in the following years contained archived photographs.
It hasn’t been specified by Peskov where the president took the dip or what temperature was at the moment, but according to The Kremlin pool reporter’s Twitter account, the video was hot outside Moscow in -20 degree Celsius temperature.
Putin, 68, grew up under Communist rule where open shows of religion were frowned upon. As president, he has become a frequent attender of Russian Orthodox ceremonies, and has given the church a major voice in society, reports Reuters.
People speculated that Putting might be sending a hidden subtle message through his choice of swimming trunk.One of the users pointed out the similarity between his swimwear and opposition leader, Alexei Navalny’s blue underpants which are claimed to be the source of the Kremlin’s critic Novichok poisoning, at the hands of an alleged FSB officer, Russian hit squad.
Earlier, Putin has been photographed bare-chested doing activities like horse riding, fishing, lounging in the sun in Siberia and hunting.