(image via: RT)
Credit 36-year-old Vadim Pak with submitting the top vote-getter: Nakhodka the Snow Leopard garnered a healthy 28 percent of the total votes cast. Voters were totally not influenced by the stated preference of Russian prime minister (now president) Vladimir Putin, who took to the airwaves just as voting was getting underway. “This is a collective image, which tells us that Russia is very diverse,” stated Putin in referring to the leopard. “It [Russia] is beautiful for its diversity, and the fact that one of the symbols of the Olympics has become an animal that we are reviving, and which was destroyed by humans in 50s of the last century, suggests that Russia is becoming different.” Er, thanks Vlad, but the contest only just started and we don’t know if… thanks, Vlad.
Without a doubt Sochi is Russia’s largest resort city and boasts a subtropical climate but… leopards? As President Putin mentioned, naturally occurring leopards were eradicated from the region by the mid-twentieth century but an ambitious reintroduction program is attempting to re-establish the big cats into parts of their former range. The recent birth of two Persian Leopard cubs in Sochi National Park was a triumph for Russian zoologists and a feather in the cap of Sochi’s Olympic Organizing Committee, who were happy to have some positive news to crow about… or roar about.
(image via: RT)
As Republicans still fuming over the infamous (and hilarious) Weedlord Bonerhitler fiasco know all too well, when you give the great unwashed public an opportunity to poke the powers that be in the eye, they’ll do so with gusto. Russia is no different and the country has an abundance of people ready, willing and able to protest by any means available… like a mascot contest, for instance. Moscow cartoonist, animator and popular blogger Egor Zhgun was one such activist who heard opportunity knocking and leaped into action. His entry, dubbed Zoich (“2014” in twisted Russo-English), was modeled after Futurama’s Hypnotoad with the addition of fur and a ski pole to chomp on. Zoich led the vote totals for some time but was excluded from the final Top ten selection by contest organizers who found themselves in a no-win situation. “Zoich was absolutely out of consideration,” according to a source within the Russian Olympic Committee via The Moscow Times. “It was very depressing.” Lighten up, Franciskov.