A former governor of Russia’s Kemerovo Region has confessed he was so keen to support rumors of a ski resort town being inhabited by a yeti, he told officials to dress up in furs and roam the woods to try and “attract” tourists.
Reports of sightings of an elusive ape-like creature known as the Yeti, Sasquatch, Abominable Snowman or Bigfoot had long been part of the local lore in the Gornaya Shoriya Mountains. Some local hunters have claimed that they’ve encountered the furry two-meter-tall being in the wild, with cryptozoologists and other fans of the supernatural visiting the area from time to time.
But in a baffling revelation on Thursday, former governor Aman Tuleyev, who headed Kemerovo Region between 1997 and 2018, has admitted that he might have played a part in stirring up the Bigfoot buzz – after seeing it as an ideal opportunity to increase the flow of tourists to the local ski resorts.
“I must confess: I’m guilty. It was me, who had been stirring up interest towards the Yeti,” Tuleyev wrote in a surprise Instagram post on Thursday.
The 76-year-old recalled a conversation he had with a district head, in which he suggested: “Why don’t we turn Tashtagol and surrounding areas into ‘Yeti’s Homeland’? Let the people come and search for it.” The governor reasoned that the guests would need to pay for hotels, food and entertainment, thus bringing more money into the district’s purse.
In 2010, a new holiday was officially introduced in Gornaya Shoriya. It was called the Yeti Day and coincided with the opening of the skiing season. The authorities also promised a reward of one million rubles (around $13,000) for the person who managed to track down the mythical beast and capture it. The hype delivered the desired result at first. But after some time, the numbers of arriving Bigfoot fans started to dwindle, and that’s when Tuleyev decided that the people needed some “cheering up.”
He again spoke to the district head, instructing him to “find someone taller; let him take off his suit, turn his fur coat inside out and run around in crowded places, shouting, so that the tourists took notice, but wouldn’t be able to catch him.”
The official who cosplayed as the Yeti was to be awarded a bonus and told to stay quiet about the whole affair, according to Tuleyev’s plan. In order to keep the man out of harm’s way – in particular, from hunters’ bullets – the authorities specifically underlined that the reward would only be paid if the snowman was delivered alive.
“I don’t know how [district head Vladimir] Makuta pulled it off, but the interest towards the Yeti remained high,” the veteran politician claims.
However, Tuleyev himself is far from a Yeti-denier. He’s revealed that he once performed a lengthy snowmobile ride to one of the caves in the Gornaya Shoriya, mentioned in the Yeti stories, but found no sign of the creature there.
“Nobody in the world has yet been able to find the snowman. But one shouldn’t lose faith. Maybe he’s really wandering somewhere out there. What if someone is finally be able to encounter the Yeti and make history,” Tuleyev wrote.
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