Russia’s Putin takes Epiphany’s icy plunge with Orthodox pilgrims

Russian President Vladimir Putin braves the minus 5 degrees C water to take the annual traditional ritual marking the baptism of Jesus.(Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Russia’s Putin takes Epiphany’s icy plunge with Orthodox pilgrims

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and many Orthodox pilgrims braved a bitter winter snap overnight to take the annual plunge into icy water in a traditional ritual marking the baptism of Jesus.
In some areas, the extreme temperatures — which in parts of Siberia dropped to minus 68 degrees Celsius (minus 90 Fahrenheit) — the local authorities canceled the rite which marks Epiphany.
Surrounded by Orthodox priests and glittering religious icons, and with the temperature hovering around minus 5 degrees C, Putin lowered himself into the freezing waters of Lake Seliger some 350 kilometers northwest of Moscow.
Many other Russians followed suit, submerging themselves in the freezing waters in a widely-observed ritual normally observed on 18-19 of January and which last year saw two million people take the plunge.
In Norilsk, a city beyond the Arctic Circle, local authorities on Thursday banned the extreme bathing rite “for security reasons” as temperatures hit minus 52 Celsius and strong winds whipped up a blizzard, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Many faithful also marked the date in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus, both of which are also predominantly Orthodox, local media said.
According to Orthodox tradition, worshippers are supposed to immerse themselves three times — in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — to remember the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
To mark the occasion, Orthodox priests also go out to bless rivers and reservoirs, and even bodies of water like the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.


Footballer Kompany’s dad first black mayor in Belgium

Updated 3 min 52 sec ago
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Footballer Kompany’s dad first black mayor in Belgium

BRUSSELS: Pierre Kompany, the father of Manchester City captain and Belgian international defender Vincent, became Belgium’s first black elected mayor on Monday after his party topped the poll in the Brussels suburb Ganshoren.
Pierre Kompany, 71, arrived in Belgium in 1975 as a refugee from what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has since been naturalized as a citizen and entered politics.
He was head of the centrist CDH list in Sunday’s municipal election in Ganshoren, a bilingual French and Dutch speaking town of 25,000 just outside the Belgian capital, and will take office in December.
“He’s the first black mayor in Belgium,” Vincent declared on Instagram. “It has never happened before. It’s historic. We’re all delighted. Bravo to my father.”
In 2014, a local councillor of Congolese origin, Denis Liselele, served as temporary mayor in the Belgian town of Sambreville after the elected town leader was suspended during a court case.