Putin dresses as mother crane to lead young birds on migration

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's both. Russian president in another action man stunt

LAST UPDATED AT 11:32 ON Thu 6 Sep 2012

VLADIMIR PUTIN has added another iconic image to his colourful collection of action man roles. After sedating tigers, petting polar bears and stripping to the waist toting a rifle, he has now dressed as a mother crane and led a flock of birds on their winter migration.

In scenes reminiscent of the heart-warming 1996 film Fly Away Home, the Russian president piloted a motorised hang glider to see a group of young Siberian white cranes off on their migration to central Asia.

Putin donned white coveralls and a glove that looks like a beak so that the endangered cranes, which were raised in captivity, would think he was their mother, reports The Guardian.

The president took part in the Russian World Wildlife Fund project, called the 'Flight of Hope', on his way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum in Vladivostok.

Notorious for burnishing his macho image alongside tigers, bears and dolphins, Putin had apparently been learning to fly a glider for the last few months in preparation for this latest stunt.

But the event has already ruffled feathers in Russia. Opposition supporter Masha Gessen claims she was ousted from her job as editor-in chief of Russia's oldest travel magazine, Vokrug Sveta (Around the World), because she refused to assign a reporter to cover Putin's trip.

The president’s stunts have been a source of continual irritation for his opponents. Four years ago, a Russian Hello-style magazine devoted an entire issue to him – littered with photographs of him striking bare-chested poses while kayaking, arm wrestling and swimming with dolphins.

However, earlier this year there was speculation that some of his exploits had been faked. A 'wild' tiger that he supposedly tranquilised turned out to be from a zoo. In another case, he was shown scuba diving and bringing up fragments of ancient Greek amphorae. His spokesman was later forced to admit the artefacts had been planted on the sea floor for Putin to grab.

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