Russian president Vladimir Putin has completed another spectacular stunt by diving 60 metres in the Baltic Sea with a red submarine to explore and examine a shipwreck from 1869.
In an attempt to boost his popularity, the 60-year-old former KGB spy went on board to the "subsea limousine", a five-seat submarine worth $2.4 million, according to luxury retail site RichVibe.
After the submersion, he resurfaced completely dry and praised the work of the Russian Geographical Society, which has been studying the sunken wooden vessel from the tsarist era.
"We didn't really do such work before. I think the time has come now, we can finally do that in terms of financial and technical capabilities. The moral duty towards the fatherland defenders goes without saying," said Putin, referring to the Russian sailor who died in the sea.
The Oleg frigate of Tsar Alexander II's navy sunk 60 metres below the surface of the Gulf of Finland after being rammed by an ironclad during a naval exercise. It descended to the seafloor in just 12 minutes, and its interior and weapons remain mostly intact.
Life of adventure
It is not the first time that the judo black belt has gone beneath the waterline in search of exotic adventures.
In August 2011, Putin scuba-dived in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black and Azov seas, and surfaced with two ceramic amphorae from the sixth century. However, his press secretary later admitted that the jugs had been discovered earlier by archaeologists and the whole stunt was a set up.
The Russian president also took a Russian Mir-1 minisub to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake, to check for reported pollution from a paper factory.
Putin is also famous for his bare-chested exploits; however, ahead of his 2012 presidential campaign, the Russian leader decided to stop showing his body because it was drawing satire and criticism.
"Even Putin's core supporters are now more critical of him [over such stunts]. It would have been ridiculous to appeal to them by showing a bare torso," said Valery Fyodorov, head of the polling agency VTsIOM, which is close to the Kremlin.