Russian President Vladimir Putin is at it again. And by that, I don't mean he's persecuting gay men, arresting protesters, or banning certain religious groups from operating in Russia, but rather indulging in a few athletic pursuits while on a shirts-optional vacation. The Kremlin released photos of Putin on vacation in southern Siberia over the weekend that show the Russian leader spearfishing, swimming, hiking, and mushroom hunting.
Putin's latest set of vacation pics have garnered a significant amount of attention from media outlets around the world, with the Washington Post dubbing them "the new Vladmir Putin propaganda set." This isn't the first time the Kremlin has gifted the world with photos of President Putin thoroughly engaged in various physical, thrilling, adrenaline pumping, or just plain cool pursuits. Previously we've seen Putin riding shirtless on horseback in 2009, getting up close and personal with a polar bear in 2010, and leading a pack of endangered cranes on their migration route in a motorized hang glider in 2012, among other things.
In fact, it's no secret that Putin likes to present a rather "macho" image of himself to the world. Days before his Siberian vacation, the United States had approved a series of sweeping sanctions against Russia in an effort to punish the country for its involvement in the Syrian civil war, its annexation of Crimea, and its government's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Is his vacation a coincidence?
Here's what Twitter had to say about Russian President Putin's latest publicity stunt, I mean, vacation:
Where Have All The Shirts Gone?
It seems Russian President Putin loves leaving his suits and ties behind whenever he hits the road for a holiday. But why not relax in a t-shirt or two? Is Putin simply a light packer, or is there a message behind his shirtless photos?
On The Hunt
Along with fishing, sunbathing, and some general relaxation Putin took Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu hunting for mushrooms in the remote wilderness of Siberia's Tuva region. Talk about a trust exercise.
PR Stunt Or Dating Profile Update?
Although everybody loves a vacation, many on Twitter wondered just what exactly was the point of Putin's fun-in-the-sun vacation photo set.
A Vacation Fit For A Divorced Dad
Although Putin is a divorced dad (the Russian leader announced he and his wife Lyudmila were divorcing in 2013), he took similarly macho athletic vacations while he was married.
One Fish, Two Fish
For some, Putin's vacation photos seemed more like a strategic attempt to convey how strong, healthy, and energetic the 64-year-old Russian leader is.
There Was Also Spearfishing
I mean, what says "I'm not ready to retire from politics" more than a thrilling day spent spearfishing?
And Some Casual Sunbathing
What would an album released by Putin even look like? He's rumored to be a fan of the Beatles, but does that mean he'd opt for a similarly peppy rock style if he ventured into the music business?
But Is It A Lonely Life?
Although Putin's vacations may at first glance appear like blissful breaks from the Kremlin, the presence of what appears to be a fully-functioning camera crew has lead some to question if Putin's outdoorsman holidays are really thinly-veiled publicity stunts.
Or Future Campaign Propaganda?
The BBC couldn't resist adding a "manly" soundtrack to Putin's adventurous vacation activities.
But Putin's vacation photos couldn't impress everyone. Between those who bemoaned the number of shirtless pictures and those who simply preferred the holiday antics of other world leaders, many wondered why a vacation generated so much global media coverage to begin with.
According to a presidential spokesman, the Kremlin plans to release more photos from Putin's recent vacation on Monday.