The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

February 4, 2014

Putin at Olympics, co-starring a Persian leopard

SOCHI, Russia —  Vladimir Putin, rugged outdoorsman and tough-guy Russian president, promoted a cuddly image Tuesday as his Olympics drew near.

Putin checked in at a preserve for endangered Persian leopards and visited a group of cubs born last summer in the mountains above the growing torrent of activity in Sochi for the Winter Games.

"We've decided to restore the population of the Persian leopard because of the Olympic Games," Putin said. "Let's say that because of the Olympic Games, we have restored parts of the destroyed nature."

Putin entered the cage and petted the leopard on the head. "We liked each other," he said.

Not so the accompanying journalists. They apparently upset the big cat, which scratched one of them on the hand and bit another on the knee, Russian news agencies reported.

Putin's first step on the Olympic stage was designed as a show of environmental consciousness during the Sochi Games, which open Friday. The leopard preserve was established five years ago as an Olympics-related project.

The leopards are living in Sochi National Park in between seaside Sochi and the Alpine venues in the towering Caucasus Mountains. Some of the new leopard population is to be released next year in hopes of repopulating southern Russia, where they became extinct in the 1970.

The former KGB operative has thrown open the Kremlin treasury to finance the Olympics, lavishing a record $51 billion on sports facilities and transportation infrastructure in the resort city on the Black Sea coast.

He has gambled big on the games, determined to host an event in a fashion befitting his image of a newly powerful Russia that is a global economic and political power.

Putin drove to the reserve in an SUV, with two International Olympic Committee officials riding in the back seat. Later Tuesday, the Russian leader was due in Sochi to address the IOC.

With the vast sum Putin invested in the games, he has turned the once-sleepy resort into a kind of Disneyland of phantasmagorical structures — new highways, sweeping overpasses and top-notch sports venues. Winding roads and rail lines were cut upward into the mountains to newly built Alpine facilities.

While the massive project doesn't represent a do-or-die moment for Russia, the most expensive Olympics in history — with billions of dollars reportedly lost to graft — will still reverberate through the economy and Kremlin politics. Putin's third term as president will end in 2018.

What's more, the games are being shunned by President Barack Obama and key European leaders. The U.S. leader, in open protest of new Russian anti-gay laws, dispatched an official American delegation made up of three openly gay athletic greats — former tennis star Billie Jean King, 2006 Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow and figure skating wizard Brian Boitano. Former Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano leads the delegation.

Top officials from Olympic heavyweights like France and Germany also won't be in Sochi. Same for Britain. The paucity of national leaders of major world powers leaves Putin with a schedule of meetings that will begin Thursday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the following days he see sit down with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe. No Western-aimed diplomacy is scheduled.

While Putin stepped in in Syria to convince leader Bashar Assad to turn over his chemical weapons, thus saving Obama from having to initiate airstrikes, the White House remains angry that Russia have given asylum to Edward Snowden, the contract worker who has leaked volumes of secrets about U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Costa Rica is demanding US explain 'Cuban Twitter'

    The Costa Rican government says it's still waiting for the Obama administration to explain why it launched the secret "Cuban Twitter" network from inside the Central American nation's borders despite warnings in 2009 that the plan could jeopardize the two countries' diplomatic relations.

    April 24, 2014

  • FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

    The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

    April 24, 2014

  • Singer Kenny Loggins set for Indiana GOP meeting

    Singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins is set to perform at the Indiana Republican Convention in Fort Wayne.

    April 24, 2014

  • Indiana cat missing 5 years reunited with owner

    A cat that went missing five years ago has been reunited with its owner in Indiana thanks to an implanted microchip.

    April 24, 2014

  • High court nixes $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 24, 2014

  • Son eulogizes slain officer mother as 'amazing'

    An Indianapolis police officer slain by her ex-husband, a fellow officer who then killed himself, was eulogized by her son as the "most amazing person" at her funeral Wednesday.

    April 24, 2014

  • NWS - HB0424 - Rebecca Sperry - JC 1 Survivors of violent accident, mother and baby return home from hospital The past two and a half weeks of Rebecca Sperry's life have been a harrowing series of ups and downs.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Reservoir opponents take message to Earth Day

    Opponents of a proposed reservoir in central Indiana hope to use this weekend's Earth Day festivals to spread the word about their concerns about the $350 million dam project, which would inundate part of a state park known for its ancient earthworks.

    April 23, 2014

  • Smoke leads to crash on Indiana 13 A girl was hit by a motorcycle, but not seriously injured, after smoke from a controlled burn limited visibility on Indiana 13 Wednesday afternoon.

    April 23, 2014

  • First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    To help veterans leaving the military as it downsizes, the government on Wednesday started a one-stop job-shopping website for them to create resumes, connect with employers and become part of a database for companies to mine.

    April 23, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Will you vote in the primary election on May 6?

Yes, on May 6
Yes, will vote early
No
     View Results