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Russia's Putin tells critic his stunts were staged

Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that some of his most publicized stunts were staged.

Putin's media appearances — riding a horse bare-chested, petting a polar bear and putting a tracking device on a Siberian tigress — have endeared him to many Russians and provoked scorn among others. Last year, he was shown on Russian television with two ancient Greek jugs he allegedly found while scuba diving.

Putin confirmed to journalist Masha Gessen that "of course, (the jugs) were planted" and added that "swindles happen" when his subordinates organize his stunts, according to her story published in the Bolshoy Gorod magazine Thursday. He says he is angry over the set-ups.

Gessen, the author of a book critical of Putin, lost her editing job at a travel magazine after refusing to cover his flight with cranes on a hang-glider last week.

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