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Vladimir Putin, leader of birds (+video)

Russian President Vladimir Putin led a herd of endangered cranes via hang glider. While such Putin escapades are PR-driven, they do draw attention to needy causes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, piloting a motorized hang glider, leads a small flock of cranes into the air.
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Vladimir Putin is preparing to give a landmark speech to this weekend's summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Vladivostok, to outline Russia's planned economic and geopolitical pivot to Asia.

But that can wait. Some endangered Siberian cranes urgently needed a leader to show the way from their ancestral Arctic nesting grounds to their winter habitat in central Asia. The intrepid Mr. Putin detoured hundreds of miles northward to the remote Yamal Peninsula, suited up in a baggy crane-like costume, took the controls of a motorized deltaplane hang glider, and – at least according to this report on the state-run RT network – safely led a gaggle of the rare young birds who'd been raised in captivity onto their correct migratory path.

If Putin's itinerary sounds a bit like Batman's, it's because the Kremlin works hard to make it so. And the third-term Russian president, who's been doing this sort of thing since he first came to power more than twelve years ago obviously enjoys it.

The latest exploit looks fairly typical for a guy who's piloted a Mir-2 submersible to the bottom of Lake Baikal, allegedly saved a TV crew from attack by a deadly Siberian tiger, shot a huge grey whale with a crossbow (in the name of science), personally took the controls of a water bomber to douse wildfires that were sweeping Russia two years ago, discovered an ancient Greek urn during a brief dive in the Black Sea, and many more.

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