Putin unruffled by critics' remarks about his flight with cranes

President Vladimir Putin reacted to the Internet users' remarks about his flight with White Siberian cranes by urging them to try and fly like he did.

A reporter asked Putin during the final news conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to comment on the stinging remarks by Internet bloggers about his recent crane endeavor, especially on TV host Kseniya Sobchak's attempt "to project this situation to the electoral statistics." Sobchak said that, "63 percent of the cranes followed Putin, the rest flew southwards and just a small group stayed to weave nests on the streets and squares."

"True, not all cranes flew at first go and only the weak cranes stayed. But all flew at second go," Putin said, smiling.

"But honestly, part of the blame rests with the pilot who picked up speed and altitude too quickly. The cranes just could not catch up," he said.

"At some moments - I mean the poor weather and a strong crosswind - the pilot was compelled to pick up altitude and speed quickly to prevent the system from flipping over," he said.

"There are birds, of course, that never fly in a flock and prefer to nest separately. Nothing doing. But that's another problem. Even if they are not part of the flock, they are members of our population and must be handled with care," he said.

On remarks made on the Internet, he said, "What can I say? Try and fly yourselves!"

Reports said earlier that Putin on Friday joined an experiment under the Flight of Hope project to save the rare and badly endangered White Siberian cranes and he performed three flights on a hang-glider. The first one was a trial flight and the two others in company with cranes who took the pilot for their leader.

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