Woman Who Lit Olympic Flame Tweeted This Racist Obama Photo

Russia just can’t get it together.


The task of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony—and marking the official start of the Games—is one typically reserved for the most celebrated, honorable athletes of the host country.

Former Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina and former hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, who have six gold medals between them, did so at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi today, and the crowd loved it.

But wait! Turns out you might remember Rodnina—who is also an MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party—from last September, when she tweeted out this photoshopped image of the Obamas:

Rodnina deleted the pic almost immediately, but she refused to apologize for it. Why? For starters, she said she received the photo from friends in America, and no American would ever co-sign an offensive image of a black president. So there. Also, she has a right to tweet what she wants, because of free speech.

“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups,” she said.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but everything sucks in Sochi right now. Even the dogs have it bad. Pretty sure bestowing an honor to a national politician who has been unapologetic about a racist insult lobbed at the U.S. president and the first lady is not what Russia needs at this moment.

Akoto Ofori-Atta is the editor of The Grapevine. Like her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.

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