The Russian people have spoken, and their mascots for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be: a snow leopard, a polar bear, and a hare. More than a million people cast their votes during a live program on Russia's top broadcaster. Rejected mascots included a dolphin, a robin and a brown bear. The snowboarding snow leopard—Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's personal favorite—won 28% of the vote, followed by the polar bear with 18%, and the rabbit with 16%, Reuters reports.
The contest was marred by accusations of plagiarism and vote-rigging, AFP notes. The Russian Santa Claus, Ded Moroz, was ditched from the list despite being the early favorite, while votes for the snow leopard spiked, some say suspiciously, after Putin proclaimed it to be his choice. The man who designed the bear mascot for the 1980 Moscow Olympics complained that the Sochi bear was a blatant rip-off of his design, and bloggers complained bitterly that organizers refused to even consider the mascot that led in online polls—a psychedelic blue frog with a ski stick in its mouth. (Read more 2014 Olympics stories.)