Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would like leopard to become the official mascot of the 2014 Winter Olympic as the voting to choose the candidate is about to start.
A total of 13 characters, including dolphin, polar and brown bears, leopard, snowflake and bullfinch, have been chosen by a special commission among 24,000 candidates on the official website of the 2014 Olympic Games mascot.
The winner will be announced at an evening 115-minute TV show on Russia's largest broadcaster Channel One. The voting, which will be broadcast online on the channel's website, begins at 3 p.m. Moscow time [12:00 GMT].
"Leopard is strong, powerful, fast and beautiful. The leopard species were killed off here in the Caucasus, but now they are reviving," Putin said at a meeting with student organizations in Sochi.
Putin, who is known to have a weak spot for furry animals, said the character of leopard is "symbolic" if the Olympic construction project is partly linked with reviving the nature which was hampered by the human activity.
Meanwhile, the Russian prime minister said the mascot will be chosen by the majority voting and his personal opinion or opinion of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev should not influence the final decision.
SOCHI, February 26 (RIA Novosti)