It has featured in movies, in articles, political campaign posters
It’s even been used to signify the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union.
It equally features on the flag of United Russia, the reigning political party in the nation, of which Vladimir Putin is the leader.
And now it has featured in football!
Yes! it is the Russian bear – a world-wide symbol for the country.
A brown bear, named Tima, was being used to deliver the match ball to the referee at a Russian Professional Football League (Russia’s third tier) game between Mashuk-KMV and FC Angusht Nazran over the weekend to the admiration of the spectators.
The bear was also seen throwing its hands up in the air seemingly trying to get the crowd going before kick-off.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists have condemned this act.
Elisa Allen, director of animal welfare charity Peta, claimed the act is ‘inhumane’ and called the club ‘out of touch’.
“In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright dangerous.
“The bear is the symbol of Russia, so we hope the country’s people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them. Common decency should compel the league to pull this stunt.”
Country director of Four Paws UK, Brian da Cal added: “While some supposedly find this depressing scene ‘entertaining’ there is nothing at all light-hearted about this kind of abuse.
“Bears are wild animals and as such have very specific and complex needs.
“Being chained up, muzzled and forced to perform unnatural acts in front of large, rowdy crowds of people causes tremendous stress and can have an untold impact on these animals, both psychological and physical.”