A report by the Telegraph quoted Putin as saying that “some fans of group sex say that it’s better than one-on-one because, as with any collective work, you can skive off” during an interview with TV channel RT.

The rather odd topic came up during a wider discussion about the punk band Pussy Riot and Putin’s refusal to review the band’s two-year prison sentence for “hooliganism”, a charge brought after they performed an ‘anti-Putin prayer’ in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Putin’s comment appears to have been made in reference to an orgy in the state biology museum in Moscow, in which Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is reputed to have taken part in 2008. A video of the orgy was apparently posted on the internet.

After making the ‘skiving off’ comment, Putin added: “It’s OK to do what you like privately. But I wouldn’t be that certain about uploading your acts on the internet. It could be subject to legal assessment.”

The revelation follows a typically surreal week for Putin. On Wednesday, he was filmed flying a motorised hang-glider to train Siberian cranes in how to travel from the Arctic to southern migration grounds. Obviously.

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