Kyrgyz police said Thursday they were investigating reports that a Ukrainian flag had been planted on top of a mountain named for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
A Twitter user identifying himself as a mountaineer posted a video on Tuesday of a Ukrainian flag waving next to a plaque marking the mountain as Putin Peak, 4,446 meters above sea level.
“Some hooligans brought it here and planted it, we have no idea who they were,” the account posted, adding an emoji to denote sarcasm at the end of the post.
Kyrgyzstan, a 90% mountainous country, is a staunch ally of Russia.
Police in the capital Bishkek told AFP on Thursday that they had been in contact with two climbers whom a ranger had indicated were heading for Putin Peak on Tuesday evening.
“During their questioning as witnesses, they explained that they discovered the flag after climbing the peak and filming it on a phone,” the police spokesman told AFP.
The spokesman said the perpetrators could face a fine for “hooliganism”.
The Twitter account user who first posted the video wrote on Thursday that his climbing partner was questioned by police on Thursday and said she was due for a police interview on Friday.
She added that people in charge of removing the flag from Putin Peak had been in contact with the couple to ask how to climb the mountain.
Previously unnamed, “Peak Putin” took on the Russian leader’s name in 2011 as Kyrgyzstan’s ties with Moscow grew stronger after a revolution the previous year.
Russia’s first post-Soviet leader, Boris Yeltsin, had been honored with his own mountain nine years earlier, 5,168 meters high.
Both mountains are part of the Tian Shan system.
The pair is dwarfed in altitude by the 7,134-meter Lenin Peak on Kyrgyzstan’s border with Tajikistan, which is one of the highest peaks in the region.