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Putin inspires tiger character on Russian children's TV

Amur tiger at TV presentation, 22 Sep 14 Image copyright AFP
Image caption An Amur tiger cub starred in the TV announcement on Monday

A fictional tiger cub called Mur is joining the cast of puppets in a hit children's show on Russian TV - thanks to President Vladimir Putin, the show's producer says.

Alexander Mitroshenkov said the choice of a cub was "inspired" by Mr Putin.

In May Russian media reported that Mr Putin had released three orphaned Amur tiger cubs into the wild.

The children's TV show Goodnight Little Ones dates back to Soviet times. The tiger cub will be a 3D animation.

The new character emerged only after other choices were considered - a wolf cub, monkey, giraffe and horse - Mr Mitroshenkov said.

When viewers see Mur, "many will understand the president's connection to this story", he explained.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Putin tagged a Siberian tiger during a 2008 visit to a reserve in eastern Siberia

In 2010 Mr Putin joined campaigners at a high-profile forum to promote conservation of tigers, whose numbers have declined sharply worldwide.

The long-standing favourites starring in the children's TV show are called Khryusha, Stepashka, Filya, Karkusha and Mishutka.

In a tweet one of Mr Putin's most prominent critics, Alexei Navalny, referred mockingly to a former cat character which disappeared from the show, called Tsap-Tsarapych ("Scratchy-Scratchy" in English).

"Everyone remembers Filya, Stepashka, Karkusha and Khryusha. But Tsap-Tsarapych is forgotten. He was probably a Bandera man and killer," he tweeted, using pejorative slang used widely in Russia to denigrate Ukrainian troops.

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