Vladimir Putin takes icy plunge to mark Orthodox Epiphany


Vladimir Putin has joined millions of Orthodox believers to plunge bare-chested into icy water in a Russian tradition marking the Epiphany.Surrounded by Orthodox priests and glittering religious icons, and with the temperature hovering around -5C, the president lowered himself into the waters of Lake Seliger, 220 miles (350km) north-west of Moscow. He was one of many Russians who submerged themselves in lakes and rivers in the annual ritual, which normally takes place on 18 and 19 January and last year saw 2 million people take the plunge.State TV footage showed the president marching over the ice-covered lake in knee-high felt boots wearing a cream sheepskin coat as priests chanted and waved an incense lamp. Asked by a journalist if it was cold, Putin replied: “No, it’s great.” Stripping down to swimming trunks, the president then lowered himself into a hole cut in the ice, puffing slightly and crossing himself, a crucifix hanging around his neck. Holding his nose Putin then dipped under the water.(theguardian)…[+]