Putin children's TV character prompts mockery online

Igor Strelkov imagined on Good Night, Little Ones Rebel leader Igor Strelkov has been mockingly suggested as a possible inspiration for the new character

Russia's most enduring children's puppet show - Good Night, Little Ones - celebrates its half-century on television this month, and as a gift to its young viewers President Vladimir Putin has come up with an idea for a new cartoon character.

"At first the idea was rather unexpected," programme producer Alexander Mitroshenkov tells RIA Novosti news agency. "But when we examined it in detail we realised that it was a winner!" Meanwhile, social media users were quick to mock Mitroshenkov's enthusiasm. For example, a user called Dedushka Udava jeers at Russia media managers on the Vzgliad website for "grovelling to state officials" and asks how they can be allowed anywhere near children's education.

But online commentators are at their most creative in imagining what the new character will look like. Mitroshenkov says only that it will come from the same enchanted forest as the show's established puppets Khriusha the piglet and Stepasha the hare. Apparently, the new character will be inserted into the live action as a 3D animation.

Ever-topical social media users suggest the new playmate could be Igor Strelkov - one of the leaders of the pro-Moscow armed groups in eastern Ukraine, "straight from the Donbass forest". Or Sergei Kurginian, a prominent Putin loyalist who likes posing with rifles. Others propose Vatnichek - or Little Padded Jacket - an internet meme used to mock Russian ultra-patriots. The Ukrainian Obozrevatel website gathered several examples of their handiwork. All will be revealed at the beginning of October, Mitroshenkov says, when the real character will debut.

Sergei Kurginian and Vatnichek, satirical suggestions for children's TV Sergei Kurginian and Little Padded Jacket, possible forest friends

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