5 The Bare-Chested Outdoorsman
Whenever Vladimir Putin goes on a fishing expedition or for a horseback ride, he makes sure to wear the right clothing for the outing at hand. In most cases, this means boots, pants, a hat and sunglasses. Yet Putin has been “caught” enjoying nature shirtless on multiple occasions. There are even wall calendars devoted to the half-naked head of the Russian Federation – a fact that we are sure simply thrills him.
4 Diving for Sunken Treasure
In one of the more blatant and derided of Vladimir Putin’s PR stunts, he went scuba diving in search of ancient sunken artifacts. Lo and behold, the president returned to the surface of the Black Sea sporting large pieces of two Grecian amphorae purportedly lost to the sea centuries ago! Later on it came out that the “relics” had been planted underwater solely for Putin.
3 Flying with the Cranes
In perhaps his strangest PR stunt to date, Vladimir Putin donned a white jumpsuit and bulbous goggles and climbed into the harness of a powered hang glider. Why? To lead a flock of young Siberian white cranes, of course! Putin claimed that he would be a stand-in for an adult bird, as the Siberian white crane is an endangered species, and help lead the young birds along traditional migratory routes. Even if these animals did need help, perhaps an experienced ornithologist would have been better suited for the job?
2 Tranquilizing a Tiger
Most of the world’s presidents focus on domestic policy, economic reform and international relations. Vladimir Putin occasionally takes a break from such duties and shoots wild tigers with tranquilizer darts. In one of his many outlandish PR stunts, Putin and his handlers created a dramatic scenario in which the president went out with a team of conservationists tracking the elusive Amur tiger, only to save the day by swiftly dropping one of the huge cats with a well-aimed shot from his tranquilizer gun. It turns out, of course, that it was all a setup and the “wild” tiger was a zoo animal.
1 Stealing the Super Bowl Ring
At a 2005 meeting with Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots NFL team, Vladimir Putin got a chance to hold one of the most coveted objects of the modern era, a Super Bowl championship ring. Most people would smile and then return the unique jewelry. Putin instead said, “I could kill someone with this ring,” slipped it into his pocket, and then walked away. Recently, news of this casual theft began to make headlines. Rather than merely returning the ring, Putin announced that he would calm this burgeoning international incident by having an even finer ring created for Mr. Kraft. But the message was clear, and it was not one of friendship: Vlad was saying “I keep whatever I want.”