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Stunt-loving Vladimir Putin rides to bottom of Black Sea off Crimea

Published 18/08/2015

Russian president Vladimir Putin sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black Sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP))
Russian president Vladimir Putin sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black Sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP))
Russian president Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Indian prime minister Narenda Modi in Ufa after saying he was keen to try yoga (AP)
Vladimir Putin flies in a motorised hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia (AP)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a tranquilizer gun in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, centre, and Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, visit a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds the head of a tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger as a researcher puts a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a head of the tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin locks a collar with a satellite tracker on the tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo / RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at the tranquilized five-year-old Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar with a satellite tracker on the animal in a Russian Academy of Sciences reserve in Russia's Far East on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. On Sunday Putin took part in the national program for preserving the population of the Ussuri tiger conducted by researchers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Another summer, another trip to the bottom of a sea for Russia's adventure-loving president.

Vladimir Putin climbed into a three-seat submersible craft to check out an ancient sunken ship found recently in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea - the peninsula annexed by Russia last year from Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. AFP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board C-Explorer 3 bathyscaphe into the waters of the Black Sea outside Sevastopol on August 18, 2015, to explore sunken shipwrecks. Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. President Vladimir Putin plunged into the Black Sea to see the wreckage of a sunk ancient merchant ship which was found in the end of May. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground right, sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. President Vladimir Putin plunged into the Black Sea to see the wreckage of a sunk ancient merchant ship which was found in the end of May. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. President Vladimir Putin plunged into the Black Sea to see the wreckage of a sunk ancient merchant ship which was found in the end of May. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, sits on board a bathyscaphe as it plunges into the Black sea along the coast of Sevastopol, Crimea, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. President Vladimir Putin plunged into the Black Sea to see the wreckage of a sunk ancient merchant ship which was found in the end of May. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

He descended 83 metres (272ft) to see the remains of the Byzantine trading ship, which he said dated back to the 9th or 10th century.

On previous trips deep underwater, Mr Putin has explored the Gulf of Finland and Lake Baikal in submersibles. He also went scuba diving in the Kerch Strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, where he brought up fragments of ancient Greek jugs, or amphorae, that his spokesman later admitted had been planted.

Speaking by radio to prime minister Dmitry Medvedev while still under water, Mr Putin said he hoped the trading ship would shed light on Russia's development and show "how deep our historical roots are".

He told Mr Medvedev he should have come along.

"It's great, there are lots of objects, amphorae scattered around," Mr Putin said. He ended the chat with a casual "Big hug!"

Off the vessel, Mr Putin was greeted by Mr Medvedev, who did give him a hug, and also by his chief of staff and defence minister. They were among the many Russian officials who accompanied him on this week's trip to Crimea.

Pressed by a reporter whether it was wise to spend money on such ventures when Russia's economy is struggling through a painful recession, Mr Putin said his dive should help attract publicity and donors to the important work being done by the Russian Geographical Society to study "how our state was built, including in this region".

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