The Straits Times
Published on Oct 10, 2012

Putin bird stunt backfires as birds fly home on plane


MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to encourage a group of endangered cranes on their winter migration appeared to have failed spectacularly on Wednesday when it emerged the birds had been taken back to a wildlife reserve by plane.

The 60-year-old president already earned mockery last month when he took to a motorised hanglider to guide a half dozen of the Siberian Cranes - all hatched in captivity - over Russia's frozen north.

Yet the news grew even worse for Mr Putin when the Rosprirodnadzor environmental oversight agency revealed that the birds he had guided on the way to Siberia's far northern Yamal region failed to fly on further south.

They were put in an almost farcical twist like passengers on an airplane and flown back home to the sanctuary in the Ryazan region of central Russia where they had been raised.