Putin talks about politically-correct hunting

Vladimir Putin fishes on the Khemchik River in the Republic of Tuva, 15 August 2007 (AFP PHOTO / RIA Novosti / Kremlin Pool / Dmitry Astakhov)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not see anything wrong or politically incorrect in posing shirtless, nor in hunting and fishing - unless it damages nature.

­The Russia premier gave an interview to American magazine Outdoor Life in which he shared his views on an active lifestyle and talked about how much Americans and Russians are alike. The full Russian-language version of the interview appeared on the website of the Russian edition Russky Pioner (Russian Pioneer).

The journalist presumed that Russians, unlike Americans, are devoid of prejudices because it is impossible, for example, for a US president to appear in photographs with a hunting gun or with a just-caught fish because “Americans have become too sensitive.”

“Do you see political incorrectness in this? I don’t think so. And my nationality has nothing to do with this,” Putin responded.

Putin also mentioned that he recalls photos of Theodore Roosevelt next to a dead tiger, not to mention with a fishing rod.

“And just last summer President Barack Obama swam in the Gulf of Mexico, to put it mildly, without a tie, in the focus of dozens of photo and video cameras,” the premier added.

Putin did not agree that Russian and American people have many differences. On the contrary, Putin believes – they have much more in common.

“Certainly, the territory where one lives, social and economic conditions and cultural traditions impact on personality,” he said. “But I have met Americans whom I could take for Russians if they did not speak English. In general, we are quite close to each other mentally, and definitely not snobs,” he added.

Developing the topic of political correctness, he said that tolerance is one of the “moral fundamentals of our existence.”

“I’ve noticed that in some countries, including the US, people who call themselves Christians are not willing or shy or are afraid of demonstrating their commitment to Christian traditions and rituals. But there is nothing insulting in this in regard to other confessions,” Putin said. “Of course, if they treat others with respect,” he added.

As for the environmental issues, the Russian prime minister went on to say, “Hunting and fishing are nevertheless natural for people, they are an integral part of our ancestors’ lives.” He pointed out that in many countries, in Britain, among others, they remain national traditions.

“The thing is that in this field, like in everything, related to nature, people should feel their responsibility, to understand clearly to what their actions can lead,” Putin stressed. “I am categorically against uncontrolled mass shooting of animals and thoughtless fishing. Today when fishing and hunting have become a bow to tradition, a hobby, the main principle should be ‘do no harm’.”

Vladimir Putin also talked about his own environmental efforts, notably in the protection of Amur tigers. He reminded the journalist about the ground-breaking international “tiger summit” in St. Petersburg in September last year, when Russia, together with 12 Asian countries, adopted a series of documents for the protection of this species.

“For the first time in history the problem of preserving one single species was discussed on such a scale and such a high level,” Putin said. “Within the framework of the global program, the states committed to ensure security and comfortable living [for the tigers].”

Finally, the premier dwelt on his personal preferences when it comes to an active lifestyle. He confessed he is not keen on hunting, and what he is really fond of is fishing. Ultimately, the observation of animals in their natural conditions and the scientific work in which he sometimes takes part are “far more interesting.”