Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to participate in an archaeological expedition to the annexed Crimean peninsula in the coming weeks, according to reports in Izvestia and other Russian media.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told RIA-Novosti on July 31 that he could not "yet" confirm the report. However, Peskov was the original source of the news, apparently mentioning it to journalists on July 29.
According to Izvestia, Putin will make the trip under the auspices of the Russian Geographic Society, of which he is the chairman of the Board of Trustees (Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is the president of this "all-Russian nongovernmental organization").
The Russian daily says details of the expedition are being kept secret, but that it will focus on archaeological sites related to the historic Silk Road and an antique shipwreck in the Black Sea.
Putin, of course, is no stranger to adventure tourism.
In May 2014, he joined a group of Russian and Chinese conservationists in releasing three rescued tiger cubs into the wild near the Amur River.
In 2013, also with the Russian Geographical Society, he rode a submersible to visit a sunken 19th-century Russian sailing ship in the Gulf of Finland.
In 2012, he piloted a motorized hang glider in a bid to help endangered cranes find their way from Siberia to breeding grounds in Iran and India.
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In 2011, as prime minister, Putin "discovered" two ancient Greek amphorae while diving in the Black Sea -- an event that spokesman Peskov later admitted had been staged. "They were found during an expedition several weeks or days beforehand," Peskov confessed. "Of course, they were then left there or placed there. It is a completely normal thing to do."
In 2010, Putin visited Franz Josef Land in the Arctic and fit a collar on a drugged polar bear. Kommersant reported at the time that scientists had held the bear in captivity for 10 days in preparation for the prime minister's visit.
In 2009, Putin explored the bottom of Lake Baikal in a Mir deep-submergence vehicle.
If Putin does make the Silk Road expedition, it will be his third visit to Crimea since Russia annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula in March 2014.