A LEADING RUSSIAN supermarket chain apologised today for selling chopping boards with an image of US President Barack Obama as a monkey, after the American embassy reacted furiously.
The product features a family of monkeys, with an image of Obama’s face superimposed on to the smallest one.
The store today announced it had pulled the item from its shelves, saying it had not been aware of the use of Obama’s image.
“Sales of the chopping boards have been stopped,” said Valentina Moiseyeva, a spokeswoman for the Bakhetle supermarket chain, according to the TASS news agency.
We are sorry that such a product was on our store shelves. For us it is unacceptable that a store is used as a place for political provocation.
Moiseyeva added that the supermarket had lodged a formal complaint against the product’s supplier.
The board is styled as a calendar for 2016, the year of the monkey, according to the Chinese zodiac.
The Bakhetle chain is based in Russia’s traditionally Muslim region of Tatarstan but has stores throughout the country.
“Disgusting to see that such blatant racism has a place on Russian store shelves,” Will Stevens, the spokesman for the US Embassy in Moscow, tweeted yesterday.
He later thanked the company for their response.
Racist outbursts against Obama – who is often demonised and ridiculed by pro-Kremlin figures – have grown common in Russia in recent years, even from public figures.
In 2013 Irina Rodnina, a former Olympic gold medallist and now a lawmaker with majority party United Russia, posted an image on Twitter showing Barack and Michelle Obama looking at a banana.
She deleted the image later and claimed her account had been hacked.