MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian official who organized President Vladimir Putin’s flight on a motorized hang glider with endangered cranes has become a federal senator, the parliament of a West Siberian region said Tuesday.
Last September, Putin flew an ultralight as part of a project to train the young, captive-bred Siberian white cranes to fly from their native Yamalo-Nenetsk autonomous region to wintering grounds in the south.
The flight was facilitated by a white crane preservation group headed by Alexander Yermakov, a lawmaker with the Yamalo-Nenetsk regional parliament who also worked as a deputy secretary of the regional branch of the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, according to the parliament’s statement.
It said the regional lawmakers had elected Yermakov as the oil-rich region’s representative to the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, which includes two representatives from each of Russia’s 83 regions.
The statement quoted Yermakov as saying he would like to concentrate on Russia’s northern regions and work on fuel and energy projects and issues surrounding indigenous natives of Russia’s North.
Although Putin’s flight was part of a program to reintroduce the endangered birds to nature and to teach the human-bred creatures the correct migration routes, it turned into an unflattering Internet meme.
Russian bloggers cranked out a flurry of sarcastic comments and photoshopped pictures of Putin and the birds. Opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak pointed out that only about 60 percent of the cranes followed Putin – around the same percentage as the number of people who voted for him in the March 2012 presidential election.