Bears should be afraid of people, not the other way around, claimed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a working visit to Russia's Far East.
The PM was discussing the problem of poaching in the region, as he observed some brown bears in their natural habitat for himself.
The bear may be a long-established symbol of Russia, but this does not stop 600 of the animals being killed every year.
While in the wildlife reserve, the Prime Minister watched the animals fishing in the salmon-rich Kuril Lake.
During the visit, one journalist asked whether it was safe to be close to the bears. Putin responded by suggesting it is the bears who are the vulnerable ones.