It was an abominable Russian snow job.
Source: New York Post
Aman Tuleyev — one of President Vladimir Putin’s longest-serving regional leaders — has copped to arranging bogus sightings of the yeti to attract tourists in Siberia, East2West News reported.
Tuleyev, 76, who was governor of Kemerovo Oblast from 1997 to 2018, ordered a tall bureaucrat to wear an Abominable Snowman outfit so he could be spotted in the bushes by visitors to the cash-strapped Siberian region.
But despite the Bigfoot-like stunt, the former presidential candidate said he doesn’t rule out the mythical creature’s existence.
“Many local hunters swear that they saw a 2-meter giant with their own eyes in remote places, covered with hair,” he told East2West.
“Scientists have not yet been able to meet with him, but they seem to have found traces,” Tuleyev said.
But, he added: “I must admit, I confess, yes, it was I who fueled interest in the yeti.”
Initially, he arranged an annual Yeti Day and offered a cash prize for proving the creature’s existence in efforts to boost tourism in the Shoria Mountains.
A 2011 video purported to show a yeti at Mount Zelyonaya in Sheregesh, in the same Tashtagol district, according to the report. Two years later, schoolchildren claimed to have spotted the hirsute Himalayan creature.
“People started coming, rushed to scour the forests,” he said. “Of course, no one found the yeti, but Shoria attracted increased attention.”
And when “interest faded,” he ordered district chief Vladimir Makuta to “find someone tall, throw off his office suit, turn a fur coat inside out and run around … shouting so that tourists notice but they must not catch him.”
Pretty soon, visitors from around the world descended on Shoria, where an international conference on the yeti was held, with attention focused on the Azasskaya cave — supposedly a favorite haunt of the yeti.
“I did not find any traces of the yeti’s habitation in this cave, and I did not dare to climb into the depths,” Tuleyev confessed, though strange footprints and hairs mysteriously appeared in the region.
Igor Burtsev, a local academic who has claimed that 30 yetis inhabited the Shoria area, set up a special institute at Kemerovo State University.
In 2015, artist Andrey Lyubchenko claimed that an 8-foot-2 yeti holding a wooden stick had posed for him in the area.
But despite the anecdotal claims, Professor Bryan Sykes, an Oxford University genetics expert, dashed the hopes of local yeti seekers.
Alleged yeti hair that underwent DNA tests had apparently been planted for experts to find. One was from a horse, another a raccoon and a third from a bear, according to the news outlet.
“Nobody in the world has found the yeti, but it is not to despair. Maybe he really wanders somewhere,” Tuleyev said. “What if you will be able to meet the yeti and write your name in world history?”
Source: New York Post