MOSCOW - The widely publicized images of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pulling up ancient Greek jug fragments from the seabed on a diving expedition were staged, his chief spokesman said.
The August dive in the Kerch Strait connecting the Black and Azov seas was reported extensively in Russian and overseas media. Putin is noted for his habit of appearing in vigorous and adventurous settings, including fishing while stripped to the waist.
In video footage of the dive, Putin holds two fragments of what are said to be sixth century BC Greek jugs and says “the boys and I found them’’ in about 6 feet of clear water.
But his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that the jugs had been found earlier by archaeologists and placed there for Putin.
“Look, Putin didn’t find down there jugs that had lain there for many thousands of years,’’ Peskov said.