Bare-chested Putin takes dip in icy lake for Epiphany

Supporters of Navalny who has won a fanbase among Russia's young urban middle class unsuccessfully vote to nominate him for presidential polls

(Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin walks out of a hole in the ice after taking a dip in the freezing waters of Lake Seliger.

It is celebrated in the memory of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. He lowered himself into the water, made a sign of the cross and submerged himself for a moment, in a scene captured by state media.

Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 19, is one of the most important holidays in the Russian Orthodox tradition.

Earlier on, Mr Putin laid flowers during a ceremony at the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery to mark the 75th anniversary of the breakthrough of the Nazi Siege of Leningrad in World War II.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the temperature of the water was 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

Putin has garnered wide attention for photos and video footage of him shirtless on horseback, shirtless fishing, shirtless hunting and now, shirtless worshipping. He tried it for the first time on January 19, 2011, during Orthodox Christian celebrations of the Epiphany, or the baptism of Christ, but now he also sees it as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Russian leader has made his religiosity increasingly pronounced in public statements and appearances in recent years, while also emboldening the Russian Orthodox Church's conservative social views.



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