The Russian Bear
Today I want to talk a bit about bears and there association with Russia. The bear is one of the most common figures associated with Russia, and it can be seen in many Russian symbols. The Russian bear is a national personification for Russia, used in cartoons, fairy tales, and dramatic plays since at least the 17th century.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was even some discussion in the Russian Parliament of having a bear as the new Russian coat of arms, however it was the Tsarist coat of arms of the double-headed eagle that was restored. Russians also use the term for human-like characteristics also, a clumsy but kind person and be referred to as a bear. To the right you can see a huge flag displayed at a 2008 European qualifier in Moscow, the flag depicts a strong fearsome Russian bear along with the writing "Go Russia!"
For the 1980 Olympic Games held in Moscow, Russia chose the Russian teddy bear "Misha" as the mascot. Both Russians and the outside world identify Russia with the bear, Misha just helped to shape this view in a positive way as a small, cuddly and smiling bear, as opposed to a big, brutal, and clumsy bear. The bear has also been depicted with the 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held in the southern Russian city of Sochi.
The bear was also taken up as the symbol of the United Russia Party, which has dominated the political life in Russia since the early 2000s. And coincidentally, in 2008 Dmitry Medvedeev, whose name means bear in Russian, was elected president.
It is also a popular stereotype that if you go to Russia you'll see bears walking on the streets. Well, unfortunately, when you come visit you wont see any bears on the streets, you'll have to go to the zoo for that. However, there are several types of bears that do live in Russia. Mostly brown bears live in Russia, and there are many subspecies with various names, here are a few of them:
The Eurasian Brown Bear, also known as the common brown bear. The largest brown bear population in world can be found in Russia, east of the Ural mountain range, in the large Siberian forests.
The Kamchatka Brown Bear, also known as the Far Eastern Brown Bear. This subspecies of brown bear is native to the Anadyrsky District, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Karaginskiy Island, the Kuril Islands, the coastal strip west of the Sea of Okhotsk southward to the Stanovoy Range and the Shantar Islands.
Ussuri Brown Bear, also known as the black grizzly. He can be found in the Ussuri krai, Sakhalin, the Amur Oblast. The Ainu people, an indigenous group in Japan and Russia, worshipped the Ussuri brown bear, eating its flesh and drinking its blood as part of a religious festival known as iomante.
And of course the Russian Polar Bear, which lives in the Russian Arctic.