It was Vladimir Putin’s much flaunted love of animals that brought him face to face with a tiger four years ago. Deep in the woods of Russia’s far east, the powerful leader was on a mission to help save the endangered amur tiger, when one of the fierce beasts appeared out of nowhere and attacked. Putin saved the day – and at least one television crew – when he intercepted its approach with a swift shot from a tranquilliser gun.
That, at least, was the story presented by state-run television, in lengthy, fawning reports that aired repeatedly after the incident in 2008.
But now, four years later, environmentalists and bloggers are presenting evidence that the tiger Putin shot was no wild tiger at all – and that the animal died as a result of the stunt.
The scandal is the latest to show the cracks in the president-elect’s carefully crafted image, as his popularity continues to fall despite a recent election win that critics say was manipulated by fraud. (Read more)