President Vladimir Putin's knowledge of history is so good that it makes his own spokesman blush with embarrassment.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Komsomolskaya Pravda that he struggles to keep up with Putin and blames himself for skipping history lectures when he was a student.
"Putin is very passionate about history and when he goes into discourse about a historic event, sometimes it makes you blush," Peskov said Wednesday.
Peskov recalled one incident when he could not provide a comprehensive account of the origin of the so-called Old Believers, a branch of the Orthodox Christian faith that rejected church reforms in the 17th century.
He said the embarrassment compelled him to catch up on the subject that very same evening.
Peskov characterized his boss as a "conventional and whole" man, who nevertheless becomes more difficult to work with because of his "profound mastery of the situation" and deep knowledge.
Peskov denied that Putin engages in publicity stunts and said that reports about his boss flying a deltaplane, riding a horse bare-chested, and diving for ancient amphoras gave people a glimpse of "his real lifestyle."
"The president just lives his life — he either works or rests. Sometimes we get his permission to publish some photos or video materials. There is much more than has been published," Peskov said.