Russian News Reader Fired: Memorable Middle Finger Treatment Of Obama Angers Putin (Youtube)
November 24th, 2011
By Andrew Osborn, Moscow
Online footage of the incident involving news anchor Tatyana Limanova went viral in both Russia and the West causing REN TV, her employer, huge embarrassment.
To broadcast bosses' horror, Ms Limanova was caught mechanically raising her left arm and showing the camera her raised middle finger after referencing US President Barack Obama.
REN TV, a privately owned channel controlled by associates of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, said on Thursday it had decided to take her off air calling her actions "unacceptable" and "unprofessional".
"On 14 November during the 'News 24' programme the presenter Limanova made an unacceptable gesture that was a synonym for an offensive expression," it said in a statement.
The channel, which is broadcast to 120 million people, claimed the gesture was intended for her colleagues in the studio rather than for President Obama.
"It had no subtext and was not linked with the news that Limanova was reading at that moment," it said.
Nonetheless, it said it had been left with no choice but to fire her.
"A decision has been taken that T Limanova cannot and will not continue to work on the REN TV channel as a presenter," it said.
Sources close to the channel had previously tried to defuse the row by claiming that the newsreader had believed she was off camera at the time and merely providing a voice-over for a report. She had raised her middle finger as a jokey retort to studio technicians who had been trying to put her off her stride, they said.