Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that some of his most famous media adventures with wildlife have been carefully staged but has said they were worthwhile because they drew the public’s attention to important conservation projects.
His macho appearances with everything from tigers to whales have been a staple of Russian state TV for years, cementing his image as a man of action but drawing mockery from critics who have likened them to Soviet-style propaganda.
Although Putin’s spokesman has previously revealed that at least one of the stunts was a set-up, Putin until now has appeared to play along with the exercises, allowing state media to present them as they seem rather than how they really are.
But in a rare meeting with a Kremlin critic after his latest wildlife stunt – taking to the skies in a light aircraft with a group of cranes last week – Putin admitted he had often taken part in media exercises which were carefully staged.
Sometimes, he said the stunts had been over the top.