Last week Vladimir Putin took to the skies in a motorised hang-glider to help guide a number of Siberian white cranes south for the Winter.
If you think that sounds ridiculous, you’re not alone. Could we imagine Barack Obama (or Mitt Romney) taking to the skies in such a manner? For Putin, however, its just one of a series of strange, wildlife-related stunts we’ve seen over the years (the very next day, Putin played with an octopus).
In Russia the crane-flying stunt attracted a lot of attention — many observers noting that few of the cranes actually followed Putin, an apt-metaphor for opposition jokes.
The Russian president, however, hit back at critics at the weekend. According to the AP, Putin told reporters at the conclusion of APEC summit in Vladivostok that, “It’s true that not all flew right away, but the ones that didn’t fly were the weak cranes.”
“There are of course birds in the flock who just don’t fly, and they prefer to build nests separated from the rest,” he went on to say. “But what can you do. That’s a different problem. Even if they are not members of the flock they are members of our population and we have to treat them with care, when possible.”
The comments had a double-meaning for Russians, too, criticising the errant ways of those involved in the protests that have hit Russia over the last year.
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