Action man: How Putin rocked the media outside politics (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Horse riding in Tuva
One of the most famous Putin snaps was taken during a holiday to the sparsely populated Tuva Region in August 2009. The area borders Mongolia to the south.
He was the country’s prime minister at the time and as well as showing off his swimming prowess in a local river, he also dabbled in a spot of fishing and took a horse ride across the barren and beautiful landscape.
President Putin is well known for helping to publicize the plight of the Siberian Tiger in Russia’s Far East and slowly but surely, the population is showing signs of growth. In the summer of 2008, Putin took a trip to the Ussuri Reserve to have a look at a program the Russian government had set up to help save the big cats. However, when one female tiger broke free from a trap, Putin was on hand: he grabbed a tranquilizer gun and put the animal to sleep.
Start your engines
To celebrate Russia being awarded the right to host Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2014, Putin took to a raceway in St. Petersburg in November 2010 to test out a race car. After getting a safety rundown from the experts, he got behind the wheel and reached speeds of up to 240kmph, quite possibly earning the title of the world’s fastest politician.
Water bombing wild fires
Wild fires are a scourge of the Russian summer. During his stint as prime minister in 2010, Putin decided he would take it upon himself to tackle some of the blazes ravaging the Ryazan region. He briefly got behind the controls of the Russian-built Beriev Be-200 plane and pressed the necessary buttons to drops several tons of water on the fires below.
Follow the leader
In one of his most daring feats, Putin helped a flock of cranes find the correct migration path from Russia’s Far East to the warmer climes of Central Asia in September 2012. Dressed in white, he flew a hang glider and even played an instrument to mimic the sounds made by the bird’s parents. “I am just relieved it went well,” said Putin after disembarking from the motor-powered glider, which he controlled with a co-pilot. “I saw the birds following me on either side. They are beautiful creatures.”
When Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced he wanted to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Beijing in 2014, he might have been better off finding another world leader to pick a fight with, given that the Russian president has a black belt in judo. He was awarded a ninth Dan ranking in November, 2013, and won a judo championship during his youth while growing up in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), and would be more than at ease dealing with any opponent on the judo mat.
He shoots, he scores!
The Russian president’s ability on the judo mat and the ski slopes is well documented, but Putin is also a dab hand with a hockey stick and a puck at his feet. He managed to score an impressive eight goals in an NHL game – that’s the Night Hockey League version earlier this year in Sochi. Fellow ministers Sergey Shoigu and Arkady Dvorkovich also took to the ice, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watched on from the stands.