Putin praises DiCaprio as 'real man' after harrowing journey to tiger summit
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio narrowly escaped two plane crashes en route to a five-day tiger summit hosted by Putin, who is no stranger to derring-do himself.
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These include flying in the rear seat of an Su-24 fighter plane to the war-torn republic of Chechnya, observing a missile launch from the deck of a nuclear submarine, co-piloting a supersonic Tu-160 bomber, and diving more than a kilometer to the bottom of Siberia's Lake Baikal in a Mir-1 mini-submarine.Skip to next paragraph
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Showing a softer side, Putin last week asked people to help him name his new Bulgarian Shepherd puppy, given to him by the Bulgarian prime minister on a recent visit, by posting their suggestions on his official website.
One of the stories Putin might have swapped with DiCaprio during the lengthy tête-à-tête the two enjoyed at the tiger summit was the time, two years ago, when he saved the lives of an entire television crew from a Siberian tiger. After the captive animal broke its bonds and went on a rampage, Putin shot it with a tranquilizer gun and sedated it – thereby saving not only the crew, but the specimen of an endangered tiger species as well.
"Putin's interest in saving tigers should be no surprise. He's devoted a lot of effort to ecological problems," says Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected Duma deputy. "He's even told people that after he retires his goal is to find some way to work on environmental issues."
DiCaprio's uncanny resemblance to Lenin
During their meeting DiCaprio warmed up to Putin, mentioning that he, too, is of Russian descent.
"The name of my ancestors was Smirnov," DiCaprio said. "I always wanted to bring my grandmother to St. Petersburg, but that never came to fruition before she died two years ago."
A Russian film producer, Alexander Borodyansky, noting DiCaprio's uncanny resemblance to Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, is reportedly in talks with the actor to play the Bolshevik leader in his new film "Lenin's Brain." The storyline apparently involves a resurrected Lenin returning to organize a Communist revolution in the US.
"I’m sure that when you get to know St. Petersburg you will be proud of your Russian roots," Putin told DiCaprio.