Russian firm milks chilly US-Kremlin ties with ‘Little Obama’ ice cream

MOSCOW A Russian company is trying to cash in on chilly relations between Moscow and Washington by releasing an ice cream called “Little Obama”, irritating U.S. officials.

The product, called “Obamka” in Russian, is glazed with chocolate and its wrapping features an image of a smiling young African boy, wearing an ear ring and holding an ice cream.

With relations at a post-Cold War low since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in Syria, Russian state media and pro-Kremlin activists have often berated and mocked President Barack Obama in terms that U.S. officials have described as racist and insulting.

The company that makes the ice cream, Slavitsa, said in a statement that it was part of a range aimed at children featuring “cheerful” characters.

“With different flavors and glazes, the ice cream symbolizes the main races of people on our planet,” it said, adding that the picture of the boy had been inspired by a Soviet film.

“Ice cream names need to be memorable. For those with a rich imagination, various associations might arise, but this product is for children and is a long way from politics.”

A U.S. official, who declined to be named because of the subject’s sensitivity, told Reuters he saw the ice cream as part of a disturbing pattern.

“While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent,” the official said.

Slavitsa is based in Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian city that hit the headlines last month after a cafe dedicated to Vladimir Putin opened there, luring visitors with dozens of pictures of the Russian president.

The cafe features Obama’s face on toilet paper in its restrooms, while toilet mats bear the colors of the U.S. flag.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)

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