Vladi­mir Putin’s press secretary admitted Tuesday that the famous footage of the Russian prime minister happening to discover two ancient ceramic jugs in August as he dove down in a bay was all a set up, the New York Times reports.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin prepares to dive during a visit to an archeological excavation in August. (Alexei Druzhinin/AP)

The jugs were actually found by archeologists during an expedition “several weeks or days before,” Dmitri S. Peskov said, and later placed in six feet of water so Putin could don a wetsuit and find them.

The entire episode was captured by Russian TV networks, including Russia Television, which crowed at the time the prime minister “could not resist the temptation to take part in some research,” and discovered the jugs “to everyone’s utter surprise.”

By way of explanation, Peskov has this to say:

Naturally, they either left them there, or they put them there. ... This is completely normal. It is totally not a pretext for malicious joy and so forth.

The news of the fakery, however, is unlikely to diminish Putin’s public image as a sort of legend. A plethora of online photo galleries of Putin trump the staged diving video, showing Putin in a variety of macho and fearless poses, including shooting an enormous gun, riding a horse bare-chested or making his own fire.

“In general, regarding his ‘legend’ and so forth, Putin doesn’t need press secretaries or image-makers or public relations firms or anyone else,” Peskov says. “In fact, most of the time, he does it himself.”

Watch the original diving video below: