Russians Plunge Into Icy Water to Mark Epiphany

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Putin bathed in Lake Seliger, around 250 miles north of Moscow, as part of a traditional Orthodox Christian ritual which commemorates the baptism of Jesus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took a dip in icy waters to celebrate Orthodox Epiphany.

In a show of both religious piety and bare-chested machismo, Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped down to a bathing suit and stepped into a frigid lake on Friday, surrounded by monks and television cameras. Putin braved it out: "No, it's great".

In the video, he can be seen blessing himself as he lowers himself into the water wearing only his swimming trunks. He then held his nose and immersed himself fully. His spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the water temperature was about -6 C.

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Epiphany is a major holiday in Orthodox Christianity observing the baptism of Jesus.

The Russian leader has made his religiosity increasingly pronounced in public statements and appearances in recent years, while also emboldening the Russian Orthodox Church's conservative social views.

In some areas of Russian Federation, such as the Siberian city of Norilsk, experiencing extreme temperatures as low as -68C, authorities banned the plunges "to avoid frostbite and emergency situations".

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