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Russia’s RZhD rail giant has apologised to the owners of a cat who died after being thrown off a company train by a conductor in freezing temperatures.
“We sincerely regret that the cat Twix died”, the state-owned RZhD said, vowing to change its regulations.
Footage earlier emerged apparently showing the ginger-and-white cat being unceremoniously dumped into the snow in Kirov, east of Moscow, on 11 January.
The train conductor is reported to have mistaken the male cat for a stray.
This happened after the feline escaped from its travel crate, and was spotted by passengers walking through a carriage.
When the episode came to light, hundreds of volunteers started searching the railway station area in Kirov.
The cat was eventually found dead on Saturday, and later identified by its owners.
Some reports say Twix died from an animal bite and frostbite.
Vast areas of Russia were hit by a cold spell at the time, with temperatures as low as -30C reported in Kirov.
More than 70,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a criminal investigation to be opened against the female conductor, after local authorities refused to do so.
A separate petition – signed by more than 200,000 – is asking for the female conductor, who has not been publicly identified, to be sacked.
One of Twix’s owners told state media he intended to pursue the matter through the courts.
Thousands of people across Russia were following developments on a specially created social media channel.
Since Twix’s death was confirmed, one user posted a painted image of the cat with angel’s wings and a halo over its head.
On Saturday, the RZhD said it was already implementing changes that would prohibit company conductors from “disembarking animals from trains”.
Instead, the company added, they would be handed to employees at railway stations, and animal protection groups would be called.
The RzhD has been forced on the defensive by the backlash, feeling the need to state on social media that its employees “treat animals with great attention and love, and take care of them in every possible way on the journey”.
It said that railway workers had taken part in the search for Twix, and added that one of its subsidiaries was looking into establishing long-term links with organisations that help stray animals across Russia.
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