It's a Bird! No, It's Putin's Latest Crazy Gambit

Pooty-poot escorts endangered cranes ... dressed like a bird

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 6, 2012 7:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – Vladimir Putin hasn't proven to be the biggest hit with Russians of late, so what's a hockey star/fake archaeologist/shirtless horseman/whale hunter/virgin lover to do? Most politicians might kiss a baby, but Putin opted for the logical alternative: The Russian president yesterday suited up like a bird and glided across the sky, heroically leading six endangered Siberian cranes on an Arctic odyssey to their winter feeding grounds. No, really. The New York Times can't make this stuff up.

Dubbed "the Flight of Hope," Putin indeed piloted a motorized glider with the endangered birds following willingly along. “For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe,” says a game preserve official. “They don’t remember a particular person. They remember the white robe and hood, or on the ultralight, a white helmet—and a special beak that is worn on the head.” Special beak, eh? The Internet lit up with chortles over Putin's latest: “For the flock to recognize him as a leader he stuffed three feathers in his rear," scoffed one widely circulated tweet. (In more political Putin news, Reuters has a look at an interview today in which he praises "honest" President Obama, blasts "mistaken" Mitt Romney, and suggests the rest of the world re-evaluate its stance on Syria.)

Vladimir Putin prepares for a flight in a motorized hang glider, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Vladimir Putin prepares for a flight in a motorized hang glider, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with ornithologists after a flight in a motorized hang glider on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with ornithologists after a flight in a motorized hang glider on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
Vladimir Putin waits in a motorized hang glider next to a Siberian white crane, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Vladimir Putin waits in a motorized hang glider next to a Siberian white crane, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside two Siberian white cranes, on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside a Siberian white crane on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.
Russian President Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized hang glider alongside a Siberian white crane on the Yamal Peninsula, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
A flock of  Siberian white cranes, Vladimir Putin's new BFFs.
A flock of Siberian white cranes, Vladimir Putin's new BFFs.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)
In this Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, file photo, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin feedd a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.
In this Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, file photo, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin feedd a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.   (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Alexei Drizhinin, Pool)
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.   (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Alexei Drizhinin, Pool)
That's not the only time Putin cowboyed up: Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 photo, he rides a horse in the foothills of Karatash, in Siberia.
That's not the only time Putin cowboyed up: Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 photo, he rides a horse in the foothills of Karatash, in Siberia.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin swims while traveling in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 3, 2009, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin swims while traveling in the mountains of the Siberian Tyva region.   (AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Alexei Drizhinin, Pool)
He also plays hockey: Vladimir Putin takes part in a friendly match with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 22, 2012.
He also plays hockey: Vladimir Putin takes part in a friendly match with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto take part in a friendly ice hockey match near St. Petersburg, Friday, June 22, 2012.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto take part in a friendly ice hockey match near St. Petersburg, Friday, June 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
In this Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, photo, Vladimir Putin prepares to dive during at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, photo, Vladimir Putin prepares to dive during at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
In this Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 photo, Vladimir Putin prepares to dive at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula.
In this Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 photo, Vladimir Putin prepares to dive at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
Vladimir Putin tries to dig at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula, 720 miles south of Moscow, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011.
Vladimir Putin tries to dig at an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula, 720 miles south of Moscow, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
In this Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008 file photo, Vladimir Putin looks at a tranquilized Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar on it in a reserve in Russia's Far East.
In this Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008 file photo, Vladimir Putin looks at a tranquilized Ussuri tiger as researchers put a collar on it in a reserve in Russia's Far East.   (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool, file)
In his spare time, he also leads Russia with an iron grip.
In his spare time, he also leads Russia with an iron grip.   (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service, Mikhail Klimentyev)
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