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4 Aug, 2009 19:00

Putin gives watch and knife to Siberian shepherds

Most people take a relaxing break from work from time to time, but there's no lounging by the pool for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on his tour of his vast country, even when away from official duties.

He found time for a back-to-nature break, showing off some of his survival skills while camping in the wilderness on the bank of Khemchik River in Russia’s southern Siberian republic of Tyva.

The 56-year-old premier used the opportunity to stay in shape by horseback riding, rafting down a fast-flowing river and swimming.

During a rest stop he noticed a shepherd with a flock of sheep, and invited the man for tea. In response, the shepherd invited the premier to see his modest house.

As a “thank you” for a warm reception, Putin gave his watch to the shepherd’s son and his hunting knife to the owner of the house.