MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly planning to put on a fake beak and fly a motorized hang-glider to lead a flock of endangered young Siberian white cranes on part of their migration to Asia.
The cranes, raised in captivity, do not know how to fly south, and environmentalists have to devise an imitation lead crane to show them the way.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency Wednesday that the flight is to take place "one of these days." He could not be reached by The Associated Press for elaboration.
The newspaper Vedomosti said it is expected before Putin chairs the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok beginning Friday.
Putin has become alternately notorious and beloved for an array of macho stunts, including posing with a tiger cub and riding a horse bare-chested.
Some of the stunts, such as petting a polar bear tranquilized in the wild, have purported scientific connections. But Putin last year was caught short when one of the events was revealed to be a set-up.
In that case, Putin was shown scuba diving and bringing up fragments of ancient Greek amphorae. But Peskov later admitted the artifacts had been planted on the sea floor for Putin to grab.
The stunts irritate Putin's opponents, who regard them not as benign political entertainment but as part of an establishment of a cult of personality lionizing an authoritarian leader.
Masha Gessen, author of a book critical of Putin, left her post as editor of the travel and science magazine Vokrug Sveta (Around the World) this week, claiming she was fired for refusing to send a reporter 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) northwest of Moscow to Yamal Peninsula to cover Putin's flight with the cranes.
A statement from the magazine Tuesday said she left by agreement with management because of "differences" on the separation of editorial and publishing powers.
Vokrug Sveta works closely with the Russian Geographical Society, whose board of trustees is chaired by Putin.
Earlier on HuffPost:
President Vladimir Putin pets his dog Conny before one of his meetings with officials in his office in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on March 3, 2004. (Alexander Zemlanichenko, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin plays with a dog in the village of Verkhniye Mondrogi August 18, 2001, during his summer vacations in Karelia. (Getty)
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as photographers try to make pictures of his dog Koney during his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II (not pictured) at Putin's residence in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi Aug.18, 2005. (Alexander Zemlianichenko, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin hugs a Hungarian 'Puli' dog owned by Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany (R) and his wife Klara Dobrev on the balcony of the Prime Minister residence in Budapest, March 1, 2006. (Miklos Der, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin pets his dog Kuni as Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on as they address journalists after their working meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi Jan. 21, 2007. (Axel Schmidt, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin plays with a dog as former US President George Bush look at him at the Bush family house at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine in July 1, 2007. Putin arrived in the United States for a "lobster summit" with Bush, aimed at defusing tensions which have spiked over irritants such as missile defense. (Mikhail Klimentyev, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, accompanied by a dog, play badminton at the presidential residence in Sochi on Aug. 14, 2009. (Dmitry Astakhov, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, accompanied by a dog, drive in an electric buggy at the presidential residence in Sochi on August 14, 2009. (Dmitry Astakhov, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hugs a Bulgarian shepherd dog, a present from his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov after their press conference in Sofia on Nov. 13, 2010. (Nikolay Doychinov, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plays with his Bulgarian shepherd dog named Buffy during their meeting at Putin's residence outside Moscow, the Novo-Ogaryovo, on Dec. 9, 2010. (Alexey Druzhnin, AFP / Getty Images)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin greets a soldier's dog as he visits a division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Balashiha, outside Moscow on July 22, 2011. (Alexey Druzhnin, AFP / Getty Images)