(skynews) They were cutting an icehole in preparation for an Orthodox ritual where bathers commemorate the baptism of Christ.
“Around noon yesterday, rescuers and divers submerged to check the water ahead of Epiphany bathing, and discovered a bag containing a ball-like object,” a source from the rescue service told a local news agency.
When they opened the bag, they found a head and a brick inside, the source added.
The gruesome discovery happened in the river Jordan in the South Russian city of Saratov.
But a spokeswoman from the Emergencies Ministry said she was not able to confirm the report.
Thousands of Orthodox worshippers plunge into icy water each year to mark the Epiphany, despite temperatures dropping as low as -30c.
According to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox church, all water is holy on January 19.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was among those who took part in the river Dnieper, Kiev.