Russian social media users have launched racist abuse at Barack Obama, stooping to comparing him to a monkey in the wake of the election hacking row.
A series of racist memes were circulated after Obama announced the expulsion of 35 alleged Russian intelligence agents and seizure of two country compounds used by its diplomats.
Crude web mockery was savage in personalizing Moscow’s loathing for the outgoing president even as the Kremlin leader sarcastically wished him and his family – as well as all Americans – a happy new year.
Putin pointedly used a general message to world leaders to greet Donald Trump, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush – and not Obama.
His message to Obama was included in a statement addressed specifically to him in the wake of the spy row.
It said: ‘It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner.
‘Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family.’
In a hurtful meme seen previously in Russia and being circulated again on Friday, Obama is shown being offered a banana.
In another image, Obama asks: ‘How do we make you scared of our sanctions?’ Putin replies: ‘No way. Do you want a banana?’
One more sequence depicts the ‘Western Santa’ meeting Russia’s Grandfather Frost, who delivers presents to children at midnight on New Year’s Eve according to Soviet traditions, and sometimes dresses in blue rather than red.
Putin surprised the West on Friday by not retaliating with a tit for tat expulsion of 35 US diplomats, and instead inviting the children of US diplomats to a Kremlin party to mark the new year.
He also sent a presidential plane to collect the Russian ‘spies’ being thrown out of the US, stating they would be happy to be home with loved ones in time for new year.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lambasted CNN and other Western media for reporting that the Russians had threatened to close the Anglo-American School in Moscow, which educates children of diplomats from the US, UK and Canada as well as other countries – and the scions of various Moscow oligarchs.
Alluding to Obama, she said with a view to the Russian exchange of gifts at new year: ‘Normally, I do not ask Grandfather Frost for anything. This year, I’m asking him to get rid of someone.’
Earlier she accused Obama and his circle of being ‘foreign policy losers, angry and shallow-brained’.
The circulation of racist memes aimed at Obama has happened before and is never followed by condemnation from the Kremlin.
Concern over racism in Russia has been raised repeatedly by outside monitoring agencies but is seen as little of a concern internally. Earlier this week an anti-racism group was blacklisted by the country’s Justice Ministry, the Moscow Times reported.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Will Stewart