July 26 - New video shows Russian President Vladimir Putin catching a giant fish and kissing it during a recent trip to Siberia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Russian President Vladimir Putin fished a 21-kilo pike out of a Siberian lake on a recent weekend trip to Russia's Tyva region. Russian television showed video footage of Putin pulling the giant fish out of a lake, where he traveled together with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. After catching the fish, he kissed it before dropping it in a barrel. "This is my first pike like this, I have to be honest. It bit well, and didn't swallow (the fly). I was afraid to pull too hard and rip its lip," Putin said. Russian television reported that the fish was later turned into cutlets. Putin, a 60-year-old former KGB spy more than a year into his third presidential term, is eager to boost his populist appeal to make up for the support lost among Russians following the largest wave of street protests against his rule in 2011-12. In the past he has submerged in Russia's Lake Baikal, extinguished forest fires, butterfly-stroked through Siberian water, and hopped on massive racing trucks. In a sign of Putin's changing fortunes, however, his stunts have increasingly drawn satire and he was ridiculed online as a troubled "alpha-crane" when he flew a deltaplane to lead the rare birds on their migration route last fall. Putin was forced to admit earlier that a 2011 stunt in which he discovered an ancient amphorae at the bottom of the sea was a set up and he faced accusations that a seemingly wild tiger he tranquilized had been brought in from a zoo.