It seems that no vote can take place in Russia without accusations flying over overzealous electioneering, dirty tricks or straightforward rigging. Last night’s TV vote for the mascots of the Sochi Winter Olympics has proved no different. Putin’s public backing of the snowboarding leopard, who proved to be the eventual winner, alongside a doe-eyed hare and scarf-wearing polar bear, has raised questions about certain mascot candidates, namely the Prime Minister’s ‘strong, fast and beautiful’ big cat, being given an unsporting advantage. From AFP:
Allegations of plagiarism, high-level political meddling and sheer poor taste on Sunday marred Russia’s choice of three furry mascots to represent the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Russians chose three mascots — a cute-looking snow leopard, polar bear and hare — by popular vote in a seemingly innocent television show late Saturday that aimed to choose a people’s mascot.
Eyebrows were first raised when the initial favourite to win the mostvotes — a portrayal of Russian Father Christmas Ded Moroz — was ratherundemocratically ditched from the competition by the organisers.
Then it just so happened that the mascot which strongman Prime MinisterVladimir Putin had declared his favourite — the “strong, fast andbeautiful” snow leopard — polled easily the most votes.
Prominent Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told Moscow Echo radio that it was possible some none too cuddly tricks through a rigging of the telephone system had been used to engineer the desired result.
“Just after Vladimir Putin showed his sympathy for the leopard, its votes climbed sharply,” he said.
The snow leopard, who somewhat implausibly moves around on a snowboard, was nowhere to be seen in the initial ratings which were led by the unfortunate Ded Moroz.
“It’s hard to imagine a more ridiculous mascot. The snowboarding leopard was practically chosen from on high and is completely unjustified. There is nothing Russian about it,” fumed blogger titos on liberal web newspaper gazeta.ru.
To meet the other winning mascots, click here.