RUSSIA

Russians suspicious over Putin’s 2014 Olympic mascot pick

 An Internet outcry followed the announcement of the 2014 Winter Olympic mascots in Sochi, Russia, after a selection process that has left the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin mired in allegations of political meddling. Many in Russia’s blogosphere question the legitimacy of the results after Putin’s unpopular pick won first place. 

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Picture of the controversial snow leopard, Putin's first choice. Picture taken from Twitpic.

 

An Internet outcry followed the announcement of the 2014 Winter Olympic mascots in Sochi, Russia, after a selection process that has left the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin mired in allegations of political meddling. Many in Russia’s blogosphere question the legitimacy of the results after Putin’s unpopular pick won first place.

 

Ten cartoons were short-listed from the original 24,000 mascot entries during a first round of online voting. In the final round, Russians were invited to cast their ballots over a phone marathon. The results were to be announced by the end of the night Saturday during a special televised gala.

 

The national favourite, Christmas Ded Moroz (the Russian equivalent to Santa Claus), was thrown out of the selection by the Sochi organising committee without explanation during the preliminary voting round. State media later reported Ded Moroz was eliminated due to a row over intellectual property rights with the International Olympic Committee.

 

The debate reignited after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed on TV that the snow leopard was his preferred candidate on the eve of the final telephone vote. The snow leopard vaulted to the top over known popular favourites, raising suspicions that the process had been rigged.

 

Earlier polls by the Moscow-based, All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, suggested the snow leopard was the least favourite among Russians—even after Ded Moroz’s ouster.

 

In the end, Putin’s snow leopard is set to appear alongside a rabbit and a polar bear in 2014. Regarding the debate, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told AFP that “it was possible some none too cuddly tricks through a rigging of the telephone system had been used to engineer the desired result”.

 

The video above was posted on YouTube by blogger Zhgun. The video is a spoof created to mock the entire mascot selection process.

 

This post was written in collaboration with Ostap Kamodi.