Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped off to his bathing trunks and immersed himself in the freezing waters of a lake late on Thursday, observing an Orthodox Christian ritual to mark the feast of Epiphany. Each year on Epiphany, Orthodox believers immerse themselves in rivers and lakes to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Putin, who is campaigning for re-election in a March 18 presidential election, grew up under Communist rule where open shows of religion were frowned upon. As president, he has become a frequent attender of Russian Orthodox ceremonies, and has given the church a major voice in society. This is not the first time that Russian President stripped off, in August last year he was photographed with his shirt off catching fish in a mountain lake in Siberia and in August 2009, a bare-chested Putin was pictured riding a horse during a Siberian holiday.