Russia's Putin gets big fish, quality time with protege PM

MOSCOW Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:49pm EDT

1 of 7. Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are pictured on a boat in the Siberian Federal District July 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Astafyev/RIA Novosti/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin landed a giant pike and then shared the delicacy with Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, who many say is battling for survival, as both men were pictured together on relaxed weekend fishing expedition.

Footage from a remote Siberian region released on Friday showed the 60-year-old Putin wearing camouflage fatigues and sunglasses. Often resorting to outdoor stunts to prop up his ratings, there were shots of Putin fishing, driving a motorboat and petting reindeers on the trip with his protege Medvedev and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"Putin caught a pike weighing more than 21 kilograms," the president's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in Moscow. "This is a huge, gigantic animal... Steaks were made from the fish, very tasty."

Putin and Medvedev talked casually on a boat and smiled as they drank tea together by a long table in the arranged video, which also showed the prime minister snapping pictures of the surrounding landscapes.

The friendly and relaxed atmosphere between Russia's ruling "tandem", broadcast throughout the country by state television, has been an increasingly scarce view since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May 2012.

He has shown growing frustration with the performance of Medvedev's government and concentrated more power in his own hands, relegating the prime minister to a largely technical role and feeding talk of the possible dismissal of his long-time ally.

But the future may look brighter now for Medvedev after the male getaway. Even though it was not clear if he caught any fish, Medvedev certainly helped Putin eat his.

"Dmitry Anatolevich (Medvedev) ate the pike steaks," Peskov also said. "He liked it a lot."

(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya, writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by David Evans)

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