'The bears can see this is Putin:' Kremlin laughs off dangers after President takes vacation at Siberian nature reserve (VIDEO)
Vladimir Putin took a few days off work, earlier this month, for a private break in the Siberian wilderness, the Kremlin disclosed on Sunday, adding that it believed the local wildlife was no direct threat to Russian President.
Putin was accompanied by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Gennady Kiselev, the director of the supervision team at the Sayano-Shushenski Nature Reserve they visited. The 964,620 acre facility is relatively close to Russia's border with Mongolia.
The three men spent their time hiking, riding an all-terrain buggy, and fishing from a boat. The footage showed an excited Putin remarking how their ground vehicle was “almost rammed” by a herd of deer, who were unaccustomed to humans intruding in their domain.
“Such a great speed they had! How they jumped! They should be in the Olympics. They’d have no equal,” he said.
The group spent the nights camping in tents, the Kremlin said, and apparently the president’s gear became the butt of jokes by Kiselev. Putin warmed his temporary shelter with what appeared to be a foldable flat electric heater that had a mantle print on it.
The wildlife researcher used the opportunity to update the president on how the preservation programs he runs are progressing. Scientists are trying to increase the population of snow leopards at the Sayano-Shushenski reserve. Putin is famously fond of the big cats and has been supportive of preservation efforts.
The hiking trip sparked humorous concerns for the security of the Russian leadership, since it brought the three men close to a bear den. There are an estimated 200 bears living in the reserve, so Putin’s press secretary was naturally asked by the media what contingencies were taken to prepare for an attack.
Dmitry Peskov assured reporters that the president’s personal security “is consistently provided by those who are tasked with it,” without going into details. As for bears, Peskov joked, “come on, a bear can see that this is Putin, after all.” He conceded that the deer herd’s leader may have had a “military rank.”
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