VIDEO: Birds reject Putin as leader
Thu, 06 Sep 2012 10:17a.m.
By 3 News online staff / AP
Vladimir Putin's attempt to lead a flock of cranes in a motorised hang glider didn't quite go to plan.
Dressed all in white, Putin was to fly with the endangered birds, showing them which way to migrate. On the first flight, however, only one crane fell for the ruse. Putin blamed strong winds, which made the glider fly too quickly for the birds to keep up.
Five birds followed him on the second flight, but only two were able to keep up with the nature-loving Russian leader after he'd done a couple of circles in the sky.
The project, called Flight of Hope, aims to save the cranes. Their usual migration patterns have been disrupted by open-season hunting of birds in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A new destination in southern Uzbekistan has been created, but the birds – raised in captivity – have to be shown which way to fly first.
Putin was only shown how to operate a hang glider right before his first flight with the birds.
“I liked this program,” Putin told reporters. “I advise everyone to try it.”
He is only eight hours in the air away from getting his pilot certificate.
“I feel great relief because everything has come off so well,” says Putin. “The birdies did a great job.”
Putin has become alternately notorious and beloved for an array of macho stunts, including posing with a tiger cub and riding a horse bare-chested.
Some of the stunts, such as petting a polar bear tranquilised in the wild, have purported scientific connections. But Putin last year was caught short when one of the events was revealed to be a set-up.
In that case, Putin was shown scuba diving and bringing up fragments of ancient Greek amphorae. But Peskov later admitted the artefacts had been planted on the sea floor for Putin to grab.
The stunts irritate Putin's opponents, who regard them not as benign political entertainment but as part of an establishment of a cult of personality lionising an authoritarian leader.
3 News / AP
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