Animal rights activists have condemned the brutal methods allegedly used in circus training.
Yet outside a ring in Moscow, circus workers say such methods are never used and would not work on the animals.
"They say we torture animals," Nikolay Pavlenko, a tiger tamer, told Al Jazeera. "It is absurd. It is nonsense."
"It is impossible to force an animal to perform using violence."
Circus reached the peak of their popularity during Soviet times. Artists were getting the same sort of perks as the political elite, and the performances were being watched by more than 70 million people a year.
Al Jazeera's David Chater reports from Moscow.