Moscow, Dec 6: The organising committee of the Year of Russia in India has approved its logo, a white stork symbolising piety and chastity, against the background of the flags of the two countries.
It will appear in all programmes and events throughout next year and well into 2009, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported.
The stork won an open contest, in which more than a hundred Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian artists competed with 300 sketches of the emblem. The jury included experts from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies, the Indian Embassy to Russia, and the Times of India media holding.
Twelve works were on the short list. Nikolai Kiselev, 24, an artist from Novosibirsk, won the contest. His sketch was also named the best by Kanwal Sibal, the then Indian Ambassador to Russia, at the April 17 gala on the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.
''Storks spend the winter in India and fly to Russia for the warm season. These birds of passage build air bridges between the two countries,'' said Anzhelika Zhukova, CEO of IMA Dialogue and contest organiser.
Many nations consider the stork a lucky bird. In the Russian bestiary, it symbolises piety, chastity, circumspection, reverence and resurrection, he added.
The presence of the Russian tricolour in Mr Kiselev's sketch also contributed to his victory. The organisers said it is important for people in India to get to know the Russian flag.
''They often mistake it for the French or Dutch flag, according to an opinion poll recently carried in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi. Indians remember the red Soviet flag far better. However, they also know Moscow. Vladimir Putin is a household name. As for Alexander Pushkin, Russia's greatest poet, only 2 per cent of respondents mentioned him,'' Mr Zhukova informed.
The jury thinks the stork would also make a good emblem for the reciprocal Year of India in Russia, scheduled for 2009. ''The bird flies right to left in the Year of Russia emblem. It needs only to reverse direction a year later,'' he added.
The organising committee that approved the logo gathered the managers of Russia's principal government and private companies, who discussed the programme of the Year of Russia as an event of major political importance.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin said after recent talks with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Year of Russia in India would include 150 events. ''Such a large-scale public action would certainly help to bring the two nations closer together,'' he added.
Standing out among the events of 2008 would be an Indo-Russian forum on trade and investment in New Delhi, the New Delhi World Book Fair, in which Russia would be the guest of honour, the launch of Russian-Indian YouthSat research satellite, several youth friendship festivals, and guest tours of foremost Russian music and song and dance companies.