Putin strips off for icy dip to mark Orthodox Epiphany

The Russian president took the plunge in temperatures of around -5C

Putin strips off for icy dip to mark Orthodox Epiphany

Russian President Vladimir Putin bathes in an ice-cold water on the Orthodox Epiphany neat on Lake Seliger in Svetlitsa village, Russia, 19-01-2018. Image: Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian president Vladimir Putin has stripped off to brave the icy elements as part of a religious ceremony near Moscow.

Putin took the plunge in temperatures of around -5C for the annual ritual at Lake Seliger to the north-west of the Russian capital.

Thousands of Russians observe the practice every year

In a State video released online, Putin can be seen marching towards the partially frozen lake in knee high boots and a sheepskin coat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin marches towards the icy-cold waters of Lake Seliger in Svetlitsa village, Russia, 19-01-2018. Image: Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Orthodox priests can be seen chanting and waving incense for the ceremony marking the Epiphany – which is celebrated on January 19th by churches following the Julian calendar.

In the video, he can be seen blessing himself as he lowers himself into the water wearing only his swimming trunks.

It is reportedly the first time has publicly taken part in the ritual.

However a Government spokesperson told the Tass state news agency that he has been observing the ritual in private “for a number of years now.”