Now that I’ve decided to use bears in my animation, I wanted to do a little further research into them. I’ve moved away from the idea of referencing the circus and dancing bears, but there is still a lot of context that ties them to Russia. The bear has been a symbol of Russia for some time, used both by the country itself and by others (though not always in a flattering way).
Current uses of the Russian bear within Russia are the coat of arms of one of it’s major historic cities as well as the logo of the current ruling political party.
Other countries have used the symbol to imply the country is big, brutal and clumsy, specifically in propaganda and political cartoons.
At one time, Russia tried to subvert this image that the rest of the world had of them with things like their 1980 Olympics logo, Misha. Since then, however, they seem to have embraced the image, with a push at one point to change the country’s coat of arms to the creature. Whilst they may not be pushing for “brutal and clumsy”, the power that is associated with the bear is definitely an appealing characteristic to advertise ones country.