MINSK - Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin landed a giant pike on a fishing trip, his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko has boasted about catching a man-sized catfish.
Putin's office said last week he had caught a 21 kg (46 lb) pike while fishing in Siberia, describing it as a "gigantic animal". The latest in a long string of macho exploits by the Kremlin leader drew skepticism and mockery on social media.
On Wednesday, Belarussian state television showed Lukashenko telling a government meeting about his own catch, including a 57 kg (126 lb) catfish hauled out of the Pripyat river. He did not mention Putin or say exactly when he had landed the monster.
"It was as long as I am tall," said Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Rusiy.
Although Belarus is Russia's closest ally, the relationship between Lukashenko, 58, and Putin, 60, has long been uneasy. The pair have exchanged critical and sometimes sarcastic comments about each other for years as Lukashenko has resisted the strengthening of Russia's influence over its smaller neighbour.