NPR logo Putin's Latest Feat Of Derring-Do? Bagging A Really Big Fish

Putin's Latest Feat Of Derring-Do? Bagging A Really Big Fish

Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't been shy about showing off his macho — and often shirtless — side.

There was that picture with the gun ...

Vladimir Putin on a hunting trip in the Siberian Tyva region in September 2010. He was Russia's prime minister at the time. Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/AP hide caption

toggle caption Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/AP

Vladimir Putin on a hunting trip in the Siberian Tyva region in September 2010. He was Russia's prime minister at the time.

Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/AP

the one with the tiger cub ...

Putin with the tiger cub he received as a birthday gift on Oct. 9, 2008. Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/AP hide caption

toggle caption Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/AP

the one in which he discovered an archaeological treasure ...

Putin discovered these two archaeological trophies during a dive near an ancient Greek port on Russia's Taman Peninsula on Aug. 10, 2011. Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/AP hide caption

toggle caption Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/AP

Putin discovered these two archaeological trophies during a dive near an ancient Greek port on Russia's Taman Peninsula on Aug. 10, 2011.

Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/AP

and of him riding a horse.

Putin rides a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region on Aug. 3, 2009. Alexei Druzhinin/AP hide caption

toggle caption Alexei Druzhinin/AP

Putin rides a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region on Aug. 3, 2009.

Alexei Druzhinin/AP

Now there's a story about Putin going fishing — and apparently catching a really big fish.

The Russian president holds a pike he caught July 20 while fishing in the Siberian Tyva region. Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti/AP hide caption

toggle caption Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti/AP

The Russian president holds a pike he caught July 20 while fishing in the Siberian Tyva region.

Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti/AP

As the Los Angeles Times reports, claims about how big the pike the Russian president caught last weekend in Siberia ranged from 33 pounds to 46.3 pounds. The Russian blogosphere wasn't impressed.

"The Kremlin must have weighed the pike the way they count the votes," one observer wrote, according to the L.A. Times.

But these photographs, and criticism from his opponents and human rights groups aside, the Russian leader is still extremely popular — especially for the way he took on his country's oligarchs, who during the Yeltsin years became a law unto themselves.

As Christopher Read, a professor of 20th century European history at the University of Warwick, noted in a recent piece in The Atlantic:

"Putin's style has certainly been authoritarian, but to see oligarchs as human rights victims is to stretch the definition.

"Other elements of his popularity have been a more assertive international stance in which Russia shows independence in the face of American and western opposition — currently manifesting in the crisis in Syria, one of Russia's oldest allies — and a relatively successful economic policy which saw a period of growth, falling unemployment and rise in real wages, sometimes achieved by increasing state intervention in the economy, including the re-nationalization of factories and industries."

What is your favorite Putin moment? Let us know in the comments below.

(h/t Bill Chappell)

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