Russian President Vladimir Putin showed his rarely seen musical side in a sing-a-long with university students.

He visited Moscow State University yesterday and sang a brief excerpt from a Soviet-era space exploration song called 14 minutes to the launch.

Putin was visiting the university as part of Students' Day in Russia when one student began playing a guitar.

Holding a microphone, Putin sang: "On the dusty paths of distant planets, our tracks will remain."

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His efforts were met with a round of applause from those in attendance.

The song was written in 1960 and became synonymous with Yuri Gagarin's space journey in 1961.

Putin stumbled as he sang the traditional Soviet song.

The same song was performed in space by Russian cosmonauts in 1962 and until today is loved by many Russians.

It was also performed in space a year later by Russian cosmonauts and remains popular with the public.

It is not the first time that Putin, a judo black belt better known for his macho posturing, has sung in public.

In 2010, when serving as Russian prime minister, he sang Blueberry Hill at a children's charity event after performing the opening notes on a piano.