Fed up with the corruption and nepotism of their local officials, residents of the remote Siberian city of Barnaul, near the Atlai mountains, are backing a very different political figure.
Meet Barsik, the Scottish Fold cat, who is 18-months-old in human terms, and around 21 in cat years. He’s been propelled to political stardom after finishing way, way ahead of his human rivals for the post of mayor of Barnaul in an unofficial poll by the Atlai Online page on Russian social network Vk.
Yep, political apathy and resentment has helped fluffball Barsik win almost 91% of more than 5,400 votes. The poll has become the talk of the town , which is 2,250 miles East of Moscow and has a population of 700,000.
The city has been rocked by multiple high-profile corruption cases including one involving the former mayor Igor Savintsev. He resigned in August after facing allegations of abuse of power. His son, Maxim, is awaiting trial on fraud and embezzlement charges, but has fled to Thailand, according to local media reports.
Local pensioner, Yevgeny Kunznetsov told The Guardian ‘people don’t know who to trust any more. They have come to the conclusion that they can’t trust the authorities.’
“Altai Farmer”, the alter-ego used by Barsik’s campaign manager and owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, has launched a crowd-funding initiative to raise a billboard in the city centre depicting the feline candidate with the slogan “Only mice don’t vote for Barsik!” He said the initiative had so far collected 1,400 rubles (£13.20, US$20). Well, he’s definitely the cutest political candidate we’ve seen all year. Go Barsik!