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Vladimir Putin: Freezing cold baths, porridge and rigorous cleansing regimes – the depressing daily life of the Russian 'Tsar'

Inside the fun-starved routine of the Russian President

Vladimir Putin claims that he works harder than any leader since Stalin (a strange comparison, but his choice of dictator), but little is known about his private life – which, by all accounts, seems somewhat dour.

Newsweek has sought to go behind the scenes in Putin’s court to find out about his personal habits and lifestyle. And it would seem that he is, in fact, world politics' answer to of Mariah Carey – although maybe a bit lonelier.

He doesn’t rise until nearly midday, spends hours swimming while he keeps his courtiers waiting, then he reads for a while (historic tomes are his favourite, apparently) before hitting the gym – where he is reportedly big on weights training.

Then comes his 'cleanse', where he favours hot and freezing cold baths. Then he thinks about doing some work and perhaps how best to upset the world on any given day.

His travelling habits are surprisingly indulgent; he insists on replacing all hotel toiletries with special Kremlin anti-contamination seals and carts plane loads of Russian cooks, cleaners and waiters around with him. Teams of diplomats are required to hold multi-session food negotiations with the respective hosts. He also can’t be offered food products by his host – all foreign food stuff has to cleared by the Kremlin first.

Also, quelle surprise, his staff are terrified of him. There is to be no laughter or jokes around the 'Tsar', as his inner circle call him (they used to nickname him 'The Boss', but have recently changed tact). Not for Putin is the democratic management style; office repartee is clearly nominal.

"The politicians whisper when he is in the room," says a court interpreter.

"They stay very attentive. There is next to nobody close enough to joke with him. When he enters a room the sound level drops.

"The President behaves as though he is made of bronze, as if he shines. He seems to know that they will flinch when meeting his eye. There is a silence around him.

"The voices of grown men change when they speak to him. They make their voices as low as possible. Their faces become solemn, almost stiffened. They look down: worried, nervous, alert."

In his spare time, Putin – who has no family except for his daughters, who have understandably left him in Russia – hangs out with a black Labrador, who "is not scared of him". He likes playing ice hockey, where presumably he derives pleasure from running around hitting fellow players with a stick.

Peruse our favourite facts about the private life of one of the world’s most vilified political leaders here.