Russian President Vladimir Putin steals the show with piano recital in Beijing

Russian President Vladimir Putin plays the piano before meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 14, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin plays the piano before meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin turned heads on social media after he performed a piano recital while waiting to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Mr Putin, according to Russia's Sputnik news agency, played two Russian songs - Moscow Windows and Evening Song - the unofficial anthems of Moscow and St Petersburg respectively.

Both songs are from the late 1950s when the Soviet Union was emerging from the shadows of its premier Josesph Stalin's death in 1953, the New York Times reported.

The 64-year-old was visiting Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on Sunday (May 14), on the sidelines of the Belt and Road forum.

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The May 14-15 summit focuses on China's ambitious Silk Road plan to expand links between Asia, Africa and Europe.

A video circulating online showed Mr Putin approaching a black grand piano before taking a seat and flexing his musical chops.

The New York Times noted that while the recital appeared casual, it was clearly not spontaneous - a cameraman was present and the video appeared quickly on Russian state news media.

This is not the first time Mr Putin has shown off his piano skills. He was spotted playing one at a Moscow theatre in 2011, and at a charity fund-raiser in 2010.

It is just one of the many talents that the Russian leader has demonstrated over the years, which range from diving in the Black Sea and hunting tigers to piloting a hand glider and riding - shirtless, no less - on a horse.