Tatyana Limanova, a newscaster for Russia’s REN TV, a privately held network, has taken the Internet by storm. A clip of her raising her middle fingerÂ while reading President Barack Obama’s name has become tremendously popular.
Online footage of the incident, which occurred earlier this month during an afternoon news bulletin on the privately held REN TV channel, is being avidly viewed in bothÂ RussiaÂ and the United States.
The incident occurred during a live broadcast earlier in the month, afterÂ Russian President Dmitry MedvedevÂ assumed chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, a topic the newscast was addressing.
She is then heard to say that the post “has (previously) been held by Barack Obama” before mechanically and unambiguously raising her left arm and showing the camera her raised middle finger in an offensive gesture that is sometimes known as “flipping the bird.”
REN TV is transmitted to roughly 120 million people in Russia, and is considered to be one of the more liberal channels in a country where the media is tightly controlled by the government.
But it is now controlled by structures owned by a close ally of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, and has been criticised for allegedly becoming more slavish to the Kremlin.
The channel has declined to comment.Â But sources close to it have tried to defuse the row by claiming that the newsreader had believed she was off camera at the time and merely providing a voice-over for a report.
According to the same storyline, the rude gesture was intended for studio technicians who had been trying to put her off her stride.
While it seems doubtful that this somewhat comical incident will have any true international consequences, it is fair to say that it symbolizes the currently strained state of U.S.-Russia relations.
Sources said that Ms LimanovaÐ± an award-winning senior newsreader at the channel, would not be facing any formal punishment from her employers.
Despite Obama’s pledge to “reset” relations with Moscow, the two nations have been at odds over a proposed missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. On Wednesday,Â Medvedev threatenedÂ to fire missiles at U.S. missile sites in Europe if he is not guaranteed that missiles in those locations are not aimed at Russia. [via The Telegraph, Huff Post and Daily Mail]