Actress Pamela Anderson on Monday urged Russia to step up the fight to protect rare animals as she met President Vladimir Putin's powerful chief of staff at the Kremlin.
The Canadian-born former Baywatch star, 48, raised issues from the conservation of endangered Amur Tigers to a legal ban on killing baby seals & stopping aquariums from keeping killer whales in captivity in a televised meeting with top official Sergei Ivanov.
"I think Russia could really win over some hearts & minds in the West if Russia were to take a leadership position on defending wildlife & the rights of animals," Anderson said, sitting at a round table with Ivanov & activists from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
"Millions of people around the world are looking for world leaders that have compassion for defending nature, biodiversity & the rights of animals," she said.
"Russia has proven to be a nation unafraid to take undaunted action where action is needed."
– Putin meeting? –
Playboy model Anderson was given a private tour of the historic Kremlin fortress in central Moscow & was warmly welcomed by Ivanov.
"For me, today's meeting is very unusual & absorbing since I can discuss with attractive women the problems of protecting wildlife & very attractive animals," Ivanov, a former KGB agent, said.
Anderson came to Moscow after writing to President Vladimir Putin asking him to support her environmental causes, particularly her fight against whale hunting.
She did not, however, obtain to meet the Kremlin strongman, who has previously darted an endangered tiger & flown with cranes in Siberia in highly choreographed publicity stunts aimed at boosting his ratings.
"He's very busy & that time will come when it needs to come," Anderson said at a press conference.
"I didn't want to be just a celebrity coming to meet President Putin, I wanted to come as an environmentalist & talk more approximately real issues, so I'm not ready yet to meet him."
The actress — who moreover starred in the 1996 film Barb Wire — did criticise the Russian leader for opening a new oceanarium in Moscow in August where orca whales are being kept.
"I don't think any whales should be in captivity," she said. "I'm very surprised that they have captured these animals & hopefully they will be set free into the wild."
The visit to Moscow is not Anderson's first to Russia. In September she attended an economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok to urge Russia to do more to protect wildlife.
Anderson attended a charity auction to raise money to protect endangered species & sold off a bright red float used in the 1990s US television show Baywatch for 3 million rubles ($45,000).
At the press conference in the Russian capital the model addressed a wide range of issues from how wearing fur makes women look fat to her recent shoot for the last "nude" edition of Playboy magazine.
Anderson is not the only Hollywood star involved in environmental activism in Russia — yet others have faced varying degrees of success.
Earlier this year a Russian environmental group was forced to return a grant from actor Leanardo DiCaprio to assist protect wild salmon after it fell foul of a controversial law that brands organisations receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents."