December 2 - Sochi 2014 have unveiled a special set of stamps depicting each of the five Olympic and Paralympic Games' mascots which are available to the public in time for the New Year as part of its philatelic programme.
Russian officials have revealed the stamps containing Olympic mascots the Polar Bear, the Hare and the Leopard, and the Paralympic Games mascots, the Ray of Light and the Snowflake, are now available from post offices throughout Russia, with just over two months to go until the Games commence.
There are 680,000 stamps priced at 20 rubles (£0.37/$0.60/€0.45) each in circulation or alternatively a sheet of eight stamps is also available.
The special issue has an artistic folder, and inside are four first day cover postage stamps and envelopes.
The mascots appear on the stamp sheets with illustrations depicting winter landscapes in the background.
The Sochi 2014 mascots were chosen via a live television voting event which organisers claim saw more than 1.4 million taking part in February 2011.
More than 10 million stamps were released following the final vote and organisers say that a total of six sheets and 50 different stamps will have been released by the start of the Games in February.
Along with the Games' mascots, the stamps will also have featured subjects such as sports, the Olympic sports venues, the Olympic Torch Relay, sports legends and views of the Krasnodar region which will host a number of events including skiing and snowboarding.
The choosing of the mascots for Sochi 2014 has not been without its share of controversy.
Ded Moroz, the Russian version of Father Christmas, had been widely expected to be chosen as one of the mascots early on but was withdrawn from the running following a row with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over ownership rights.
That was followed by accusations from the creator of the Moscow 1980 Olympics mascot, Misha the Bear, that his designs were stolen to create the Bear for Sochi 2014.
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