MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin showed off his shooting skills during a biathlon on Friday, brandishing his macho image just days after winning a third presidential term.
Wearing sunglasses and a bright red coat inscribed with “V.V. Putin” and Russia’s double-headed eagle coat of arms, Putin congratulated athletes at Russia’s paralympic biathlon championship before taking a few shots himself.
Framed by a hood of fur, Russia’s 59-year-old leader lay down in the snow to take aim with a special rifle near the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“Vladimir Putin tried the role of a ski-shooter,” the government said in a statement, though it gave no details on his shooting prowess.
State news agencies said Putin, who won nearly two-thirds of the vote in a presidential election on Sunday, hit three out of five targets on his first try.
But Putin then improved to hit four out of five targets at 50 meters (yards) when he shot a special rifle for visually impaired people which makes a noise when aimed correctly.
Putin, who has cultivated a virile image by baring his torso, grappling with wild animals, dined with Italy’s former premier, Silvio Berlusconi, and President Dmitry Medvedev in a ski resort near Sochi on Wednesday.
Italian media said Berlusconi flew to Russia to congratulate Putin on the election, which international vote monitors say was skewed in Putin’s favor.
Reporting By Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Paul Casciato