Speculation surrounding Vladimir Putin's health has grown after no images or footage taking his traditional dip into freezing waters.

Putin is not normally shy in getting his top off to plunge into freezing cold water every January, an annual celebration for the Russian orthodox Epiphany.

His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian president had taken a frosty dip overnight, but stopped short of releasing pictures or video.

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"Today is Epiphany, [and the] president took part in Epiphany bathing in the Moscow region,” he claimed.

“This time there are no photo or video materials, but we are informing you that he followed his tradition.”

According to reports, other Russian top brass were ordered not to have cameras film them taking part in the tradition, presumably not to make Putin look bad.

Though that didn't stop the head of the Siberia region Buryatia taking a dip in some water while the air temperature was a biting -16C.

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The annual event is hugely popular in Russia, with some jumping into water when the temperature has fallen as low as -53C.

There has been widespread speculation that Putin might be battling cancer of Parkinson's disease.

Putin’s spokesman Peskov had earlier said Putin would not be taking a dip in St Petersburg, despite him having official engagements there yesterday, but said he would in “another place”.

Yet by late morning in Moscow there were no released images of the phantom dip.

Arkhangelsk resident Nadezhda Voroshilova, 70, the same age as Putin, had no such hesitation.

"I swam at -36C,” she said.

“The ice hole froze right in front of us. I swim in any weather. The stronger the frost, the better for us. You get more buzz. It’s indescribable. You have to feel it.

"When you come out of the hole, it’s warm, like in a steam room.”

Epiphany marks the day Jesus was supposedly baptised in the River Jordan, and is one of the most sacred days in the Orthodox Christian calendar.

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