HAPPY CHESTIVUS

A topless religious ceremony is Putin’s perfect election-year photo-op

Vladimir Putin took part in an annual Russian Orthodox custom by wading through the frigid waters of a frozen lake today, a few hundred miles north of Moscow. State media looked on, Reuters reports, at his celebration of the Epiphany.

While the Russian president hasn’t made a habit of doing this ritual publicly in the past, the Washington Post notes that in an election year where approval of Putin’s government has hit record lows, his best option is to play the hits. In Putin’s case, that’s religiosity intertwined with statecraft, and outdoorsy, bare-chested feats of strength.

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks to take a dip in the water during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations at lake Seliger, Tver region
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks to take a dip in the water during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations at Lake Seliger. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin croses himself as he takes a dip in the water during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations at lake Seliger, Tver region
Russian President Vladimir Putin croses himself as he takes a dip in the water during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations at Lake Seliger, Russia on Jan. 19. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)
Russian President Putin takes a dip in the freezing waters of Lake Seliger during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations in Tver region
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks out of a hole in the ice after taking a dip in the freezing waters of Lake Seliger. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)
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