Really? This is news? Did anyone REALLY THINK PUTIN ACTUALLY FOUND THOSE AMPHORAE? The Australian (and the others picking up the story) doesn’t give us much credit for intelligence:
THE widely publicised incident in which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pulled up ancient Greek jug fragments from the seabed on a diving expedition was staged, his chief spokesman says.
The August dive in the Kerch Strait that connects the Black and Azov seas was reported extensively in Russian and overseas media. Mr Putin is noted for his habit of appearing in vigorous and adventurous settings, including fishing while stripped to the waist and riding with leather-clad motorcyclists.
In video footage of the dive, Mr Putin holds two fragments of what are said to be 6th century BC Greek jugs and says “the boys and I found them” in about two metres of clear water.
But his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview that the jugs had been found earlier by archaeologists and placed there for Mr Putin.
“Look, Putin didn’t find down there jugs that had lain there for many thousands of years. It’s obvious,” Mr Peskov said in response to questions from the interviewers.
“Of course, they were found in the course of an expedition several weeks or days earlier. Of course, they were left there or placed there. It’s completely normal. There’s no reason to gloat about this and everything else,” he said.Mr Peskov’s comments were an unusually candid glimpse into the cultivation of Mr Putin’s image as a tough man of action.
Previous image-boosting appearances, which have shown Mr Putin hunting, riding horseback and admiring a tranquilised polar bear, have contributed to his popularity, but have also prompted bitter comments on blogs and social media.
Mr Peskov’s rare interview with a television station that has been critical of the government could reflect authorities’ concerns about a negative attitude to Mr Putin’s re-election bid among the nation’s intellectuals and middle class.
Mr Putin, who was president in 2000-2008, is almost certain to return to the Kremlin in next March’s election. He and President Dmitry Medvedev announced last month they had agreed that Putin would run for the presidency and Mr Medvedev would be named prime minister.
… in case you missed our previous coverage: