Delivering another of his famous quips, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday compared the country's political opposition to omega animals, but said they are still “part of our species.”
The flight was part of a program to reintroduce the endangered birds to nature, teaching the human-bred creatures the correct migration routes.
However, the flight turned into an unflattering Internet meme, with Russian bloggers cranking out a flurry of sarcastic comments and photoshopped pictures of Putin and the birds. Opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak pointed out that only 63 percent of the cranes followed Putin – about the same percentage as the number of people who voted for him in the presidential elections in March.
“Indeed, not all the cranes flew [after me]. Only the weak cranes stayed, and only on the first try,” Putin quipped when asked about the comparison at a press conference at the APEC summit.
Building on the metaphor, he said that the pilot of the two-seat hang glider shares the blame for flying too fast and too high, but said it was unavoidable because otherwise “the system would have capsized”.
The phrase can be taken as a reference to the March presidetial vote, which Putin won amid mass protests and vote rigging accusations. He mostly avoided dialogue with the disorganized protesters and tightened political legislation after the elections.
“Some birdies don't fly in flocks at all...but even if they're not flocks members, they belong to our species, and need careful treatment when possible,” Putin added, to general applause.