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Alexander Lukashenko, President Of Belarus, Boasts About Catching Fish Much Bigger Than Putin's

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In this photo taken on Saturday, July 20, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a big pike he caught while fishing during a mini-break in the Siberian Tyva region, Russia. Putin said it's his first pike of such a big size. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service) | AP

MINSK (Reuters) - Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin landed a giant pike on a fishing trip, his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko has boasted about catching a man-sized catfish.

Putin's office said last week he had caught a 21 kg (46 lb) pike while fishing in Siberia, describing it as a "gigantic animal". The latest in a long string of macho exploits by the Kremlin leader drew skepticism and mockery on social media.

On Wednesday, Belarussian state television showed Lukashenko telling a government meeting about his own catch, including a 57 kg (126 lb) catfish hauled out of the Pripyat river. He did not mention Putin or say exactly when he had landed the monster.

"It was as long as I am tall," said Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Rusiy.

Although Belarus is Russia's closest ally, the relationship between Lukashenko, 58, and Putin, 60, has long been uneasy. The pair have exchanged critical and sometimes sarcastic comments about each other for years as Lukashenko has resisted the strengthening of Russia's influence over its smaller neighbor.

(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Alexander Lukashenko baits Vladimir Putin: 'My catfish is bigger than your pike'