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Belarus's Fisherman-President Boasts Of Catching 57-Kilogram Catfish

"Sasha, I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all, but..."
"Sasha, I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all, but..."
A television report in Belarus has aired a fisherman's boast from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in which the agricultural university grad appears to be trying to one-up Russia's Vladimir Putin.

At least that's how casts Lukashenka's claim that he once caught a 57-kilogram catfish in the Pripyat River, in Belarus's southeastern Homel region.

"I've personally caught a 57-kilo catfish. The other two catfish [I caught] weighed 24 and seven kilos," Interfax quoted him as saying in a July 31 report.
One of the Prypyat River's storied catfish
One of the Prypyat River's storied catfish

The Belarusian leader was trying to highlight the country's environmental health, particularly in light of the catastrophic Chornobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

The Pripyat River runs through Ukraine and Belarus, including the so-called exclusion zone created by the world's worst nuclear catastrophe, before eventually emptying into the Dnieper River.

Hefty catfish -- though nothing like those in southeastern Asia's Mekong Delta -- are a regular feature of the Pripyat:

But Lukashenka's boast also looked like subtle public jousting with Russian President Putin, from whose shadow the Belarusian leader will likely never emerge.

The Kremlin last week released photos and video of Putin landing a pike in Russia's Tuva region that it claimed weighed 21 kilograms. It was the latest in a long line of photo-friendly events aimed at bolstering the former KGB officer's cred as a virile outdoorsman.

Belarus's ONT state television broadcast the video of Lukashenka telling a meeting of senior officials about the growing number of fish in the river.

The report didn't include any video of the catfish he said he'd landed.

-- RFE/RL's Central Newsroom

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