Sochi 2014 Olympics' mascot snow leopard is a symbol of a new Russia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in an interview to Rossiya (Russia) and Moya Planeta (My Planet) TV-channels.
Leopard, polar bear and hare were chosen mascots of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics following in a nationwide SMS-vote in late February.
"This is a collective image, which tells us that Russia is very diverse," Putin said. "It [Russia] is beautiful for its diversity, and the fact that one of the symbols of the Olympics has become an animal that we are reviving, and which was destroyed by humans in 50s of the last century, suggests that Russia is becoming different," the prime minister said.
"It [Russia] cares for nature, cares about its resources, restoring it for future generations," Putin continued. "This is a sign of modern Russia."
When the voting was about to start, Putin said he would like leopard to become the official mascot. The leopard received 28% of the votes, 18% and 16% voted for the polar bear and the hare, respectively.
A nationwide competition to find a mascot for the 2014 Olympics kicked off on September 1, 2010. The mascot "should encompass a range of features characteristic of Russia, and at the same time be intelligible to people of every age, profession and nationality," organizers said earlier.
MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti)