ONE of Vladimir Putin’s longest-serving regional officials has confessed to staging bogus sightings of the Yeti in a bid to encourage tourism in Siberia.
Aman Tuleev, 76, ordered a tall bureaucrat to swap his suit for a furry ensemble, seeking to startle visitors and Bigfoot fanatics from the bushes in the secluded sector.
Aman TuleevAman Tuleev, 76, and Vladimir Makuta seen posing with a man in a Yeti costume[/caption]
Alexander ChudanovThe former Kemerovo governor admitted he had previously staged Yeti sightings[/caption]
The former Kemerovo governor admitted to exploiting the outmoded myth of the abominable snowman to bring tourists to his cash-strapped coal mining and skiing region in Siberia.
Despite owning up to his dishonest dido, Tuleev refuses to rule out the Yeti’s existence.
“Many local hunters swear that they saw a two-metregiant with their own eyes in remote places, covered with hair.
“Scientists have not yet been able to meet with him, but they seem to have found traces.”
He then revealed: “I must admit, I confess, yes, it was I who fuelled interest in the Yeti.”
The Siberian TimesThe shaky footage shows a furry creature running down the mountain[/caption]
The Siberian TimesThe presence seems significantly smaller than a Yeti presumably would be[/caption]
His first strategy in the elaborate scheme was to arrange an annual Yeti Day, offering a cash prize for anyone who could prove the creature’s existence in order to boost tourism in the Shoria Mountains area, said Tuleev, who ran his region also known as Kuzbass with an iron-fist and once challenged Putin to occupy the Kremlin.
And it seemed to work – especially as his falsehood appeared to be substantiated by a spate of other reported sightings.
In 2011, a video appearing to show a Yeti at Mount Zelyonaya in Sheregesh, was filmed in the same Tashtagol district.
A group of schoolchildren also claimed to have spotted a Yeti in the area two years later.
“People started coming, rushed to scour the forests,” he said.
“Of course, no one found the Yeti, but Shoria attracted increased attention.”
Before long, “interest faded” leaving the ex-governor scratching his head on how he could kick-start curiosity in his city once more.
He ordered his district chief Vladimir Makuta to be “smart” and “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.”
Alexei AlexandrovA large footprint believed to been left behind by a Yeti[/caption]
KuzYetiIt was an attempt to bring visitors to the cash-strapped region of Kemerovo in Siberia, that somewhat worked[/caption]
The official posing as a Yeti had to be rewarded so that he kept up the charade and did not “blurt out” the trick, Tuleev explained.
“Interest in Bigfoot was fuelled,” the politician proudly reminisced while revealing a picture of him posing alongside a fake Yeti.
Enthusiasts flocked from around the world to Shoria, and an international conference on Yeti was even held.
Attention focused on Azasskaya cave, supposedly a favourite location for the Yetis. Traces of the mythical monster, including footprints and hairs, were allegedly found in the region.
Local farmers also reported that Yetis had stolen their livestock.
But Tuleev divulged, “I did not find any traces of the Yeti’s habitation in this cave, and I did not dare to climb into the depths.”
Grainy films appeared showing fleeting images of suspected Yetis, but they were never authenticated.
Local academic Dr Igor Burtsev insisted that 30 Yetis inhabited the Shoria area and set up a special institute at Kemerovo State University in dedication to discovering the truth.
Eugeny ZolotuhinThe Azasskaya cave is supposed to be a favoured stomping ground of the mythical creatures[/caption]
Alexander ChudanovHe ordered a Russian official to “turn a fur coat inside out” to frighten tourists, but not get caught[/caption]
In 2015, artist Andrey Lyubchenko claimed that an 8ft 2 inch Yeti holding a wooden stick had posed for him in the region.
“It happened so unexpectedly and fast that I had no time to get scared,” he said.
“There was a clear feeling that this was a thinking creature, I felt he was trying to ‘talk’ to me.
“The main thing was his eyes, they were just like light-coloured human eyes.”
Despite a spate of headline-grabbing claims, an Oxford University genetics expert Professor Bryan Sykes punctured the hopes of Yeti-hunters in the area.
Suspected Yeti hair was DNA tested, but, it seems, had been planted for experts to find.
One was from a horse, another a raccoon, and a third from an American Black Bear. The latter two are not native to Russia.
Despite his admission, Tuleev – now chairman of the regional parliament who in 1991 supported the August coup to restore the crumbling Soviet Union – believes the Yeti may exist.
“Nobody in the world has found the Yeti.
Aman TuleevAman Tuleev pictured with President Vladimir Putin[/caption]
“But it is not to despair. Maybe he really wanders somewhere.
“What if you will be able to meet the Yeti and write your name in world history?”
Reports of the mysterious creature were “circulating for a long time” in Kemerovo, said the politician who was governor of Kemerovo for 21 years until 2018.
A number of supposed yeti sightings have been reported in Eastern Europe over the years, but none have been proven.
In 2016, a man driving on a Russian road notorious for Yeti sightings, was frozen in fear when one of the creatures allegedly bounded out in front of his car.
Captured on a dashcam in the dead of night, a hunched figure could be seen skulking in the distance as the driver made his way down a snowy road.
As quickly as it appeared, it left – disappearing into the darkness and reigniting theories of the Yeti.
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The following year, footage of a terrified Ukrainian man cowering behind a tree as a Yeti supposedly walked past was shared.
The whimpering cameraman focused his camera on the huge furry figure bounding through the forest – but couldn’t hold his nerve and dropped his phone as it walked off into the distance.
Online users suggested the hiker had simply stumbled upon the filming of an advert featuring a Yeti, although the “genuine fear” in the cameraman’s voice had others considering it as a real sighting.
Alexander ChudanovTuleev maintains that he still believes in the Yeti, despite his confession[/caption]