Tags: olympic | torch | racist | tweet

Russian Behind Racist Obama Tweet Lights Olympic Torch

Friday, 07 Feb 2014 11:18 PM

By Todd Beamon

A former Russian figure skater lawmaker who tweeted a racially charged photo of President Barack Obama last year lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday.

Irina Rodnina, who is now a member of President Vladimir Putin's party, posted on Twitter a doctored photo of Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appearing to stare at a banana last September, The Hill reports.

The White House was angered by the photo — and U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul charged that Rodnina's "outrageous behavior … only brings shame to her parliament and country."

In fact, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny retweeted the photo, with the caption, “Look at the jokes Russian MPs make,” The Hill reports.

While Rodnina erased the tweet soon after the scandal erupted, she has not apologized.

“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups,” she wrote at the time, according to The Hill.

Rodnina, now 64, is one of the most-decorated athletes in figure skating. She holds 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, The Hill reports.

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