A late-night Russian political satire television show made a mockery of president Barack Obama during a Saturday night episode during a skit that featured a woman in blackface performing a racist caricature of the 44th president.
The show, “Mezhdunarodnaya Pilorama,” is facing backlash for the 90-second skit which features a woman in blackface wearing a red bandana on her head and dressed in a gold chain while making exaggerated movements and expressions.
The show, which aired on the pro-Kremlin station NTV, has derided the former president over the release of his recent memoir “A Promised Land.”
As the show’s host Tigran Keosayan, transitions to a conversation between himself and the actor portraying Obama, he states, “We now go live to the dark side of America’s history, Barack Obama.”
A split screen shows the actor standing between bookshelves, chanting “Black Lives Matter!”
“Can you please stop shouting? We don’t have racism. Maximum you could be taken for a gypsy,” Keosayan responds.
When Keosayan asked if the actor viewed the new book as an achievement, she responded, “of course.”
“Because none of your relatives have written books?” he asked.
“Because none of my relatives that came before me could write,” she replied.
“You should have been a rap musician, not the president,” Keosayan said before the skit ended.
In one week, Obama’s “A Promised Land” has sold more than 1.7 million copies. Penguin Random House said the memoir broke the publishing company’s record for the highest week-one sales.
Obama was a target of blatant and crude racist taunts in Russia — with many overtly supported by the Russian government through its media outlets — for virtually his entire presidency. A laser-generated drawing of Obama with a banana in his mouth was projected onto the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on his 53rd birthday in August 2014, and in 2015 a Russian supermarket marketed a cutting board inscribed with imagery comparing the president to chimpanzees, a move that finally broke the patience of U.S. officials, who forced the product to be removed from shelves.
By this week, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in chief of state-sponsored television network Russia Today and wife of Keosayan, defended her husband following backlash about the Nov. 28 show by pointing to his Armenian ethnicity.
“As someone who is part of an ethnic minority in Russia, Tigran regularly makes fun, on the air, of his large ‘ethnic’ nose and his belonging to a ‘black’ community (look it up if you don’t know which ethnicities are referred to as ‘black’ in Russia),” she wrote on Twitter.