Russia snubs President Obama at Olympic opening ceremony

Sochi torch lighting
Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the torch at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi / Photo credit:

In what the media are calling an obvious jab to President Obama, one of the two people given the honor of lighting the Olympic torch at Sochi once tweeted a racially-charged Photoshopped image of the first couple.

Russian lawmaker and former Olympic figure skater Irina Rodnina sent a tweet in September that was soon published around the world. Attached was a doctored photo depicting the president and first lady appearing to stare longingly at a banana, according to The Hill.

An enraged Obama administration took notice of the tweet, which U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul described as “outrageous behavior, which only brings shame to her parliament and country.”

After the matter became an international incident, Rodnina deleted her tweet, but added a jab directed at American freedoms.

“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups,” she wrote.

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The Hill reported:

Rodnina is a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia and one figure-skating’s most decorated athletes, having won three Olympic gold medals in consecutive games from 1972 to 1980. She lit the torch with Vladislav Tretiak, a former goal-keeper for Russia’s national ice hockey team and also a three-time gold medalist.

Terry Moran, chief foreign correspondent for ABC News, tweeted a screen shot he’d made of the tweet before Rodnina erased it.

It would be too easy to call this merely an “apparent” snub against the president. But given the international headlines that resulted from the tweet, coupled with Rodnina’s name recognition throughout the Russian Federation, there can be no question but that this was intentional.


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