Russia’s much criticised choice of three fluffy mammals as its mascots for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games took a new twist yesterday when President Dmitry Medvedev admitted their election was flawed.

Russians at the weekend selected a snow leopard, a hare and a polar bear as the official mascots for the Sochi Games in a televised poll that aimed to present the three creatures as the people’s choice.

But this being Russia, even this most innocent sounding of ballots proved controversial with the original favourite Ded Moroz – the Russian Father Christmas – rather brutally slung out of the competition by the organisers.

Then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin let slip that he wanted the snow leopard to win, leading to a surge of votes for the spotted predator and allegations of dirty tricks. (AFP)

Presidential gesture

Kosovo’s new President, millionaire Behgjet Pacolli, will give his salary of about €2,500 a month to 10 poor families, a press release has said.

Mr Pacolli “will not receive the salary from the budget of Kosovo, but will give it to families in a poor social situation,” the press release of the President’s press office said.

Tycoon Pacolli, who was born in Kosovo but made millions as the head of a Swiss-based construction company, was elected last Tuesday.

Kosovo is one of the poorest countries of Europe where 45 per cent of the population live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate stands at 40 per cent. (AFP)

Cookie ban

Girl Scouts are no longer able to sell their famous cookies outside the historic Georgia, US, home of the woman who founded the organisation almost a century ago.

A complaint last year ended the long-time practice of selling the cookies outside the Savannah home of Juliette Gordon Low because peddling on a public pavement is a violation of a city law.

City alderman Van Johnson said the city council should consider a variance to allow temporary sales during cookie season. (PA)

Voyeur jailed

A man who used his mobile phone to film a couple having sex through their bedroom window before showing it to friends in the pub has been jailed for 12 months.

Sean Bailey, 27, of Robin Gardens, Waterlooville, Hampshire, was found guilty after a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court of a charge of voyeurism.

Mr Bailey, who has previous convictions including harassment and assault causing grievous bodily harm, was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years. (PA)

Phones cut

Millions of Vodafone customers in southern England lost services when burglars smashed their way into a building and stole vital network equipment.

The raiders entered the building in Basingstoke, Hants, and took or damaged the network and IT hardware causing services to crash, Vodafone said.

There was a loss of voice, text and internet access across the south for millions of customers of the mobile phone giant. (PA)

Woof justice

Animal lovers are aghast at a proposal to send Moscow’s stray dogs to an isolation pen outside the city. City leaders want to round up the estimated 26,000 stray dogs and move them to a camp in the Yaroslavl region about 150 miles away.

Moscow’s strays are famous for their streetwise ways, many learning to sleep in subway stations and even ride on the trains. (PA)

Cross-eyed miss

There was disappointment on Oscar night for Heidi, Germany’s famous cross-eyed opossum, who correctly predicted all but one of the main results.

Heidi, who lives at the Leipzig Zoo in eastern Germany, made the mistake of tipping Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours to win the best picture statuette which instead went to The King’s Speech.

The opossum correctly tipped Natalie Portman to win best actress for Black Swan and Colin Firth as best actor for The King’s Speech.

There had been hopes it would prove as successful as Germany’s Paul the octopus which suc­cessfully predicted results in last year’s football World Cup. (PA)

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