What Vladimir Putin enjoys about different sports is novelty and the desire to promote an active lifestyle. “I just love everything new. I enjoy learning new things. The process itself gives me great pleasure,” he says.
Vladimir Putin firmly believes that martial arts teach such knowledge, abilities and skills that every politician needs. Putin believes that judo trains both your body and your mind. It develops strength, reaction, endurance, teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results and constantly work on improving oneself.
Putin has been practicing judo since he was 11 years old. “I was just a boy when I started judo. I became deeply interested in martial arts, their special philosophy, culture, relations with the opponent and the rules of combat,” says Putin, who holds the title of Master of Sports in judo. In September 2006 he became the honorary president of the European Judo Union, and in 2010 he received an honorary doctorate in judo from South Korea’s Yong In university.
Putin is also multiple champion of St Petersburg in Sambo and Master of Sports in Sambo. He holds a black belt in karate.
“Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results. I am sure you will agree that these are essential abilities and skills for any politician.”Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin became interested in mountain skiing a long time ago. He admits he truly enjoys skiing. “This is a dynamic sport that requires mastering a technique and is a great opportunity for an active holiday, to stay fit and get a boost of energy and good spirits,” Putin says. Leonid Tyagachev, a Soviet skiing champion, says Putin’s technique is very stable and he descends from the mountain on a very high speed.
Putin prefers Russian ski slopes. In 2009 he went skiing on the slopes in the Moscow Region along with the president of an Austrian ski resort Karl Schranz. In 2011 he visited the Olympic venue in Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi, where he also made a couple of skiing runs.
In February 2011, Vladimir Putin promised to the participants of the Winter Universiade in Turkey that he would learn to skate. “I thought I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I tried to learn skating only once, when I was doing a lot of martial arts,” Putin says. But, since he made the promise, he started training.
He spent two months training under famous hockey player Alexei Kasatonov. Their sessions often happened after midnight, when Vladimir Putin finished his working day. By mid-April he felt confident on skates, and on April 15, 2011 he took part in a training session of young hockey players for the Golden Puck final, where he even scored a few goals.
Vladimir Putin enjoys watching animals in their natural habitat and taking part in scientific projects. He is Chairman of the Russian Geographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and is actively engaged in the protection of rare species by overseeing the respective programmes. The animal species under his personal patronage are the Amur tiger, white whale, polar bear and snow leopard.
“I am deeply impressed by the very mission of the Russian Geographical Society: “To inspire people to love Russia.” This shows the desire to help the Russian public and the entire world discover Russia’s beauty, diversity and originality, and to present its authentic image. I welcome the opportunity to participate personally in the work of the Russian Geographical Society, helping implement its impressive, meaningful projects,” Putin said.
In August 2008, Putin visited the Ussuri Nature Reserve and put a collar with a satellite tracker on an Amur tiger. He also took part in a scientific expedition to study the beluga whale. In the summer of 2009, when he was in the Khabarovsk Territory, Putin put a collar with a GLONASS satellite tracker on the beluga whale named Dasha. In April 2010, during a trip to Franz Josef Land, he joined an expedition of scientists studying and restoring the population of polar bears in the Arctic and put a tracker on one of the bears. In 2011, Vladimir Putin endorsed the snow leopards research programme.
I am deeply impressed by the very mission of the Russian Geographical Society: “To inspire people to love Russia.”Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin got his first car when he was in his third year at university. His mother won a Zaporozhets on a lottery ticket. The parents gave the car to Vladimir. Today Putin prefers Russian cars.
Vladimir Putin has covered thousands of kilometres behind the wheel of a Lada Kalina, equipped with GLONASS and other modern equipment. On August 27, 2010, he drove his Lada Kalina down the new Chita-Khabarovsk highway. When he was asked if the Lada Kalina was a good vehicle for the Far Eastern roads, Putin said that it was a great match. “I was surprised – it’s a really good car. I didn’t expect it to be this good. It’s quiet, fairly powerful for its size and weight, and very comfortable. It has everything: air conditioning, airbags, GLONASS and low petrol consumption. In general, it is very convenient. It’s a good car,” Vladimir Putin said.
I was surprised – it’s a really good car. I didn’t expect it to be this good. It’s quiet, fairly powerful for its size and weight, and very comfortable.Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin has always shown by personal example that people should buy Russian cars. For instance, in 2005 he drove President George W. Bush around in his 1956 ivory-coloured Volga (GAZ-21). In May 2009, Putin drove that same car to the ceremony of laying the first stone at the temple complex in the Odintsovo district, Moscow Region.
Vladimir Putin bought a Niva in the spring of 2009. The camouflage-coloured three-door Niva is impressive: it has forged rims, off-road tires, and the GLONASS navigation system. The Niva is permanently kept at the residence in Sochi. “We went for a drive in the mountains together with our curators from the International Olympic Committee, Gilbert Felli and Jean-Claude Killy. They liked it, and so did I,” Putin says. Once he drove the Niva to a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Putin, Niva is a simple and reliable off-road vehicle.
Vladimir Putin manages to find the time for holidays, away from running the country. But because it happens very rarely, he tries to spend his short holidays as efficiently as possible. He firmly believes that a change of activity is the best kind of rest.
Fishing is one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite activities. He is particularly fond of fishing in Russia. “Fishing is my kind of sport: I love it and I'm always happy to use any opportunity to sit down with a fishing rod. Unfortunately, such occasions are very rare. However, sometimes my work actually helps me in this. How else could I go fishing in America, in the company of two presidents? Seriously, the best fishing in the world, according to my personal rating, is in the Murmansk Region and in the delta of the Volga River near Astrakhan,” Putin says.
Vladimir Putin also likes fishing in the Republic of Tuva: “There is a river called Khemchik, the largest left tributary of the Upper Yenisei, or Ulug-Khem, as the locals call it. I guarantee to everyone – it’s an unforgettable holiday, not only on the shores of Khemchik, but in Tuva as a whole.”
Fishing is my kind of sport: I love it and I'm always happy to use any opportunity to sit down with a fishing rod.Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin feels confident in the saddle so horseback riding for him is a chance to rest. On August 3, 2009 Putin took a one-day break and spent it in Tuva. At one of the stops he met with a local shepherd, who invited him to his home, and they went there on horseback.
During his working visit to the Republic of Khakassia, Putin travelled to the foothills of Karatash, near Abakan. There, he hand-fed local horses and drank a cup of tea, cooked over a campfire, and then went riding.
In August 2009, during his one-day break in Tuva, Vladimir Putin stayed in a tent camp on the banks of the Khemchik River. From there he went whitewater rafting in an inflatable rubber boat.
Putin also said that once he went whitewater rafting with his daughters down mountain rivers in Altai. “There we were in our raft (maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but still), and some guys were standing on the bank. They were just standing there, nobody expected us to be there because we flew in quietly, boarded the raft and went down the mountain rivers. They were standing right on the bank, three of them, with these huge beer mugs. When they saw me, they called out: “Mr President, join us!” I said no, I can’t, I’m in a hurry. “Well then, here is to your health.” As if they had been waiting for me like I go rafting there every day,” Putin recalled.