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10 Aug, 2011 16:12

Premier treasure-hunting: Putin dives into “Russian Atlantis”

Known for his keen interest in exotic adventures, Vladimir Putin has tried himself as a sea treasure hunter.

While visiting an excavation of an ancient city in south Russia, the prime minister could not resist the temptation to take part in some research to shed light on the fate of the historic site.The PM put on a diving suit and dived deep into the Taman Bay where, to everyone’s utter surprise, he managed to find two ancient amphorae dating back to the 6th century AD. Putin said he had seen at a depth of about two meters – the sea was still and the water transparent.The chief archeologist explained to Putin that amphorae often broke when the ancient ships were loaded or unloaded, so the sailors just threw them into the sea. The city of Phanagoria, founded about 2,550 years ago, is Russia’s biggest ancient settlement. For unknown reasons, it was abandoned in the late 9th century AD – this is why archeologists call it the “Russian Atlantis.” The PM suggested that the excavation should become an underwater museum – the attraction, he believes, will gather crowds from all over the world. Putin also told journalists that the Taman dive was his third-ever attempt at scuba diving. He added that swimming in a diving suit is much more interesting than in a submarine. Back in 2009, the PM dived into the Baikal Lake on a Mir-1 – a special submersible. Apart from deep diving, Putin has already tried himself in whale hunting, figure skating, F1 car driving and even extinguishing forest fires.