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Vladimir Putin marks Russian Christmas by firing cannon

The Russian president was bareheaded in the winter cold and appeared to flinch only slightly when the cannon roared.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin has marked Christmas in Russia with a show of strength – by firing a really big gun.

Under the Russian Orthodox liturgical calendar, Christmas is observed on January 7.

During a visit to his home town of St Petersburg, the Russian president visited the Petropavlovsky Fortress on the banks of the Neva River and pulled the lever on the howitzer, which fires a daily noontime salute.

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Vladimir Putin prepares to shoot a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin prepares to shoot a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

AP/PA Images

Vladimir Putin prepares to shoot a fortress cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The midday shot has been a tradition since 1865.

Mr Putin’s steely image was in full force for the event – bareheaded in the winter cold, he appeared to flinch only slightly when the cannon roared, then turned away with a thin smile.

PA Media