Russian President Vladimir Putin this week admitted what many wildlife conservationists have known, that most of his adventure ‘saving’ wildlife were carefully staged.
Until now Putin went along with state media in portraying him as a man with a conservation conscience and acting on that conscience to save wild animals directly himself.
But this week he admitted in an interview with Kremlin critic and journalist, Masha Gessen that most of his wildlife interventions were staged. Gessen confronted Putin after he went up in a light aircraft this week to fly with cranes. She had been fired as editor of the Vokrug Sveta magazine for refusing to cover the crane stunt.
Putin admitted the stunts were “over the top”.
“The leopards were also my idea,” Putin was quoted as saying. “Yes, I know, they were caught before but the most important thing is to draw public attention to the problem.”
The snow leopard staging refers to a media event last year when a snow leopard named Mongol was abducted from his habitat in a nature reserve, airlifted 100 miles to a neighbouring region, and held in captivity for a week before Mr Putin’s came to ‘release’ him. Injuries he was supposed to have sustained through poachers were in fact caused by the poor animal throwing himself against his cage for a week, bloodying his nose.
According to Reuters News Service Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Putin is spending a few days this week, that Gessen had provided “a correct account of the meeting except for some insignificant details.”
Read the Reuters article here.