A Russian TV newsreader has been fired after apparently raising her middle finger to Barack Obama live on air.
REN TV, a privately owned Russian channel, dismissed Tatyana Limanova after a video clip of her gesture went viral.
Limanova was reading a report on the Asian-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit held in Hawaii earlier this month when she noted that Dmitry Medvedev, Russia‘s president, had taken up its rotating presidency.
“Before, this post was held by Barack Obama,” she read, before looking up at the camera, lowering her eyes again and raising her middle finger.
Debate raged inside Russia over whether Limanova’s gesture was aimed at Obama or someone inside the studio, but REN TV took no chances.
“On 14 November, on the News 24 programme, anchor Limanova, on live TV, allowed the use of an inappropriate gesture (a synonym for an obscene expression),” the channel said in a statement on Thursday.
“This gesture was addressed to members of the production team, had no subtext, and was not linked to the information Limanova was reporting at the time.”
The channel decided to fire her anyway, stating: “Since this does not detract from her guilt and is not an excuse, the leadership of the REN TV channel considers this act a gross violation of discipline and a manifestation of unprofessionalism.”
REN TV is one of the few privately owned federal TV channels inside Russia and broadcasts to 120 million people.
The row came a day after US-Russia relations faced their latest test.
On Wednesday, Medvedev issued a harsh statement warning the US over its missile defence plans – a move said to have “spoiled Thanksgiving” for the Americans.