Putin administration ‘attempts to rig’ vote for zoo mascot after rivals back orangutan – Reuters

In a series of bizarre events, Putin’s administration reportedly tried to rig a vote for a zoo mascot after his opponent Navalny’s allies backed Batu the orangutan for the top spot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s administration made a bizarre attempt to rig a vote for a zoo mascot to prevent a rival-backed orangutan from winning, it has been reported.

Novosibirsk Zoo, in Russia’s third-largest city, has announced a public vote to select its mascot after the region was named the country’s “New Year’s capital” this year.

In the survey the city had the choice between Aisha the cat, Batu the orangutan, Max the Amur tiger, Sayan the snow leopard and Shilka the polar bear cub.

But what started as an innocent vote quickly turned into a political battle in which the Kremlin itself was embroiled.

Sergei Boyko, the now-exiled former Novosirbirsk coordinator for Putin’s jailed opposition Alexei Navalny, threw his support behind Batu, the resident orangutan who will be chosen for the job.

In a YouTube broadcast last month, he said: “In the context of everything that is happening in Novosibirsk, I think the orangutan is absolutely the best option. Therefore, I urge you to support the orangutan.

The surprise addition on the ballot quickly garnered more and more support as a number of Navalny supporters online, as well as other journalists and bloggers rallied behind him.







Batu has become a symbol of freedom for many in Russia
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Picture:

Novosib Zoo)








Adorable Shilka the polar bear cub would have been the Putin administration’s favorite candidate
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Picture:

Novosib Zoo)


Igor Ukraintsev, an independent member of the city council, also came in support of the orangutan .

Popular blogger Ilya Varlamov even dubbed the orange monkey “the people’s candidate”.

However, as Batu’s popularity skyrocketed, local media Tayga.info claim that the Putin administration was interested in the vote.

They report that the Kremlin and Putin wanted the orangutan to lose and claimed that Putin’s Siberian representative sent an urgent request to the Novosibirsk mayor’s office to try to stop Batu from winning.

After that, Shilka the polar club took the lead, and then Sayan the snow leopard suddenly garnered 25,000 votes in just four hours, despite the voting website receiving only 1,851 unique visitors.

According to The insider these votes were fraudulent.

Local artist Artyom Loskutov, who has long documented political protests in Russia, said: “The orangutan has clearly won. Apparently, the authorities could not accept this victory. Why – well, we can only speculate.

Eventually, the zoo decided to cancel the vote the day before it closed, saying it would pick the mascot itself.

At the time the vote was stopped, Batu had 39.4% of the vote, which means the orangutan won the vote, but it is unclear whether he will be selected.

Writing on its website, the zoo said: “We were hoping for genuine interest and a positive attitude towards our idea.







Sayan the snow leopard was another establishment candidate
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Picture:

Novosib Zoo)








Vladimir Putin’s administration reportedly interfered in vote
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Picture:

DOMINIQUE JACOVIDES-POOL/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)


“Unfortunately, we see today that our animals have become participants in a prank that people have organized.

“The poll is used for purposes far from choosing a symbol of the Novosibirsk holiday – a number of bloggers, deputies, journalists (including those who have nothing to do with our city) called on their audience to give the poll for the talisman a political coloring.

“The negative nature of what happens towards the end is beyond doubt.

“Novosibirsk Zoo is not interested in such attention to our pets, we do not like the creation of offensive memes, therefore we ask you to stop the investigation and not take its results into account .







Batu has become an unlikely symbol of freedom
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Picture:

Novosib Zoo)


“We have sent an official letter to the deputy mayor, head of the department of sports culture and youth policy Anna Vasilievna Tereshkova! And we already have support!

“Thank you to everyone who participated in the investigation without a second thought. Max, Shilka and Aisha, Batu and Sayan are still waiting for you. Of course, they are animals, but to make them an instrument of their ambitions, in our opinion , is an error.

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