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'Action man' Russian president Putin explores shipwreck in latest adventure

updated 10:24 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a Persian leopard cub at a breeding and rehabilitation center in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Perhaps the most important vote in Russia's public selection of a new Olympic mascot was cast when Putin said he wanted a funky leopard to represent the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Browse through for more photos of Putin trying his hand at different activities. Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a Persian leopard cub at a breeding and rehabilitation center in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Perhaps the most important vote in Russia's public selection of a new Olympic mascot was cast when Putin said he wanted a funky leopard to represent the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Browse through for more photos of Putin trying his hand at different activities.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin explores Baltic Sea shipwreck in submersible
  • Latest stunt for macho politician, happy to be photographed in speeding cars and bomber jets
  • Not the first time the 60 year old has taken to the water in bid to show intrepid spirit
  • In 2009, ancient urns "discovered" in Siberian Lake, later revealed as planted

MainSail is CNN's monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology.

(CNN) -- He's fired darts at a gray whale, sped through St Petersburg in an F1 car, and taken a supersonic flight in a bomber jet.

Now Russia's "action man" president, Vladimir Putin, has again flexed his muscle in his latest testosterone-filled publicity stunt -- diving to the bottom of the Baltic sea aboard a red submersible to explore a 19th century shipwreck.

The 60-year-old former KGB spy, showed no signs of slowing down his manly pursuits for the cameras, plunging 50 meters below the water to examine the frigate which sank in the Gulf of Finland in 1869.

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Putin climbed aboard the Sea Explorer 5 underwater research vessel on Monday for a 30-minute dive to the wooden wreck -- called Oleg -- which was discovered by divers in 2003.

State television showed images of the Russian strongman carefully inspecting the wreck from the front seat of the glass-fronted capsule.

Putin commented on how well-preserved the wreck was, before also praising the work of the Russian Geographic Society, which has been studying the sunken vessel.

Read: Titanic director in groundbreaking deep sea exploration

It's not the first time the thrill-seeking president has taken to the water in a bid to highlight his intrepid spirit and physical prowess.

In 2009, Putin dived to the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia aboard a mini-submarine.

Then in 2011 the Russian leader announced he had discovered two ancient urns while scuba diving in the Black Sea. Though, embarrassingly for the president, the Kremlin last year admitted the stunt was staged.

Read: Underwater hotel meets space-age design

In 2012 Putin also faced accusations from environmentalists that a seemingly wild tiger he tranquilized during a research expedition, had in fact been brought in from a zoo.

Indeed, the pumped-up president's stunts have drawn ridicule online -- last year he earned the nickname "alpha-crane" after flying a deltplane in a mission to lead rare birds on their migration route.

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