Putin flies with endangered cranes


Russian President Vladimir Putin glares at a crane as he takes part in a scientific experiment as part of the 'Flight of Hope' on on Sept. 5, 2012. The project will help preserve a rare species of cranes in the Jamalo-Nentsky region. Putin made three flights - the first to learn the process, and two others with the birds.


Alexey Druzhinin

Redoubtable Russian President Vladimir Putin is no stranger to the ostentatious publicity stunt, but now the steely leader has reached new heights. Putin took flight in a motorized hang glider yesterday, leading a flock of endangered Siberian white cranes to their new habitat.

So there he was, the loved and feared leader of Russia, dressed in a puffy white one-piece, bulgy white helmet, and goggles, flying with a flock of cranes to the promised land. The likely intended metaphor was hard to miss.

The cranes are the Russian people, and Putin stands for his only equivalent — himself. Follow me!

But if that was indeed the calculated message, further developments take on additional meaning.

When Putin first took off only one crane followed. Eventually, however, on the second flight, five cranes got with the program, according to NBC News. But then after 15 minutes, there were only two cranes left.

Read into that what you will.