Washington: Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted to staging some of his most famous stunts, including meeting endangered big cats and the "discovery" of ancient Greek amphorae in the Black sea, a Russian journalist has claimed.
However, Putin complained that while he was ridiculed for his stage-managed photo opportunities, they at least raised awareness and encouraged people to "start reading" about history and environmental issues.
His comments came during a bizarre 20-minute conversation in the Kremlin with an opposition journalist, who claims to have recently lost her job over refusing to cover his most recent stunt, The Telegraph reports.
In an article published in Moscow`s Big City Journal, she said the Russian President unexpectedly rang her soon after she lost her job to express his regret at "inadvertently becoming the cause" of her sacking, and invited her to the Kremlin, where in an unexpected frank admission, he acknowledged that many of his stunts are stage-managed.
"Well, there was overexposure, and I was to blame for that," he had allegedly said.
"But I came up with these tigers! 20 countries that are home to tigers, also began to do it. And I came up with leopard! Yes, I know the leopard was caught in advance. But the main thing is to draw attention to the problem. It’s like the amphoras. Then they all started shouting that amphorae were planted. Well of course they were planted!” he added.
Putin appeared to be referring to a March 2011 episode when he met a snow leopard while visiting a conservation programme in Khakassia, Siberia. It later transpired that the creature had been captured 100 miles away in the Krasnayarsk region and held for a week in preparation for the visit, the paper said.