Inside Putin’s crazy Christmas tree comp where ancient pines are felled for fun

The unhinged fantasy land that is President Vladimir Putin's Russia continues to grow more strange after it emerged the despotic leader launched a competition spanning the entire country to find the perfect Christmas Tree to erect outside the Kremlin.

And he ended up chopping down a 95-year-old historic spruce from the area of Volokolamsk for his own personal pleasure.

The competition asked for – or probably demanded, knowing Putin – that 62 villages and Russian areas submitted trees for Putin to use.

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Out of those 62, only 37 trees made it to the short list of what we're calling Christmas Trees Got Talent.

The winning tree came from the Gryady village in Volokolamsk.

It is due to be chopped down and delivered to Putin's massive Kremlin palace around December 12.

Ironically, Volokolamsk city actually has its own mini replica Kremlin, where the city's leadership is based – but it currently lacks a giant tree.

According to the TASS news agency, the competition comes with strict rules, such as how the tree is not supposed to be shorter than 25 metres and under 120 years old.

Another important condition is that there should be direct access to the tree in order to avoid harming any nearby plants, and that it should have a pyramid shaped crown and be deep and rich in colour, without any broken and dry branches.

Previously, trees have been gifted from other regions, but this year's competition was limited to just the Moscow region.

The rules Putin has demanded could have come in handy for the UK, after the main tree delivered to Trafalgar Square was mocked this week.

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Every year, as is tradition, London is gifted a giant spruce from Norway which is then placed in Trafalgar Square as the centrepiece of the UK's capital city's festivities.

But in recent years, the trees have been less than desirable – and this year appears to be no exception.

This year's tree, which is the 75th to be sent to the UK from Norway, stands at 68ft (21m) tall and will be decorated in time for a special ceremony on Thursday night.

The trees are given as a thanks for how Britain supported Norway during the Second World War.

But regardless of the meaning behind it, the tree this year has been ridiculed as it appears that half of it has been lost in transport, and crudely, writer Mollie Goodfellow compared it to something only around half of the UK's population will know about.

She wrote: “This is like the bit on the end of that stick they use for a smear test.”

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