Russia selects 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics mascots, controversy ensues

winter-olympics-mascots.jpgAfter opening up the vote for a national television audience, Russia has announced the cute, cartoon mascots that will help brand the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi: a polar bear, a snow leopard and a hare. 

"For the first time in the history of the Olympic Movement, the whole country was involved in choosing the mascots," says Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko in a release. "The mascots are the choice of the whole our country and will remain in the history of the Olympic movement".

A nice sentiment -- but apparently the country is a tad suspicious about how they arrived to the final three. AFP reports (via Gawker) that accusations of plagiarism, political tampering and bad taste are being slung around in the wake of the announcement.

The leopard, which has been panned across the board for its lack of relevance to Russian and strange ability to snowboard on flat land, wasn't even polling high until Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared it his favorites.

And then there's the bear, which, in addition to reportedly being the design of another artist, is said to closely resemble the symbol ruling party United Russia.

Let's hope tempers cool by 2014.
Photo/Video credit: Sochi 2014