Putin takes Epiphany's icy plunge with pilgrims
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin and many Orthodox pilgrims braved a bitter winter snap overnight to take the annual plunge into icy water in a traditional ritual marking the baptism of Jesus on Friday.
In some areas, the extreme temperatures -- which in parts of Siberia dropped to minus 68 degrees Celsius (minus 90 Fahrenheit) -- the local authorities cancelled the rite which marks Epiphany.
Surrounded by Orthodox priests and glittering religious icons, and with the temperature hovering around minus 5 degrees C, Putin lowered himself into the freezing waters of Lake Seliger some 350 kilometres (220 miles) northwest of Moscow.
Many other Russians followed suit, submerging themselves in the freezing waters in a widely-observed ritual normally observed on 18-19 of January and which last year saw two million people take the plunge.