Animal welfare charity PETA has condemned footage which has emerged of a bear handing over the match ball to a referee ahead of a fixture in the Russian third division.
Before the game between Mashuk-KMV and Angusht in Pyatigorsk, a bear - known as 'Tim' - was guided onto the pitch clapping to supporters and handing over the ball to an official.
However, PETA has described the use of the animal as "inhumane" and has called for any plans to continue the stunt to be scrapped.
Director Elise Allen is quoted by BBC Sport as saying: "In addition to being inhumane and utterly out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright dangerous.
"The bear is the symbol of Russia, so we hope the country's people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them. Common decency should compel the league to pull this stunt."
FIFA has denied suggestions that the bear could be used ahead of the opening match at this summer's World Cup.