MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin fired darts from a crossbow at a gray whale off Russia's Far Eastern coast on Wednesday in the latest in a series of man-versus-nature stunts designed to cultivate the image of a macho leader.
Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples.
"I hit it at the fourth try!" a beaming Putin, kitted out in black-and-orange waterproof suit and black beanie, yelled to a camera crew from the boat.
A biologist with him displayed the skin sample and said it would allow experts to determine where the whale came from.
When the boat skidded onto the beach, a bouyant Putin hopped off and made a beeline for waiting reporters. Clearly in his element, Putin replied jovially to a question as to whether the endeavor was dangerous.
"Living in general is dangerous," he quipped. Asked why he got involved, he simply said, "Because I like it. I love the nature."