THE ALREADY fraught relationship between Barack Obama and the Russian people appeared to take a further nosedive as an anti-smoking advert emerged of the outgoing American president toking on the last dregs of a cigarette with the caption “smoking kills more people than Obama, although he kills lots and lots of people,” “Don’t smoke, don’t be like Obama.”
Adorning a bus shelter on a Moscow ring road, the brazen ad would likely have gone unnoticed had not the Duma’s sole liberal MP, Dmitry Gudkov, uploaded a photo of it to his Facebook account on February 16.
The image has now gone viral, attracting considerable media coverage and a vitriolic flourish of online commentary. Gudkov declared it “disgusting and embarrassing that this is appearing on the streets of the Russian capital.”
As yet the advert has no official attribution and the authorities have not commented on the matter, however, it follows a distinct pattern of anti-Obama propaganda and rhetoric that has gained traction in recent months.
A video released last week under the ‘Stop Obama!’ campaign featured a cacophony of Russian students falling dramatically to the ground in a style reminiscent of ‘ring a ring o roses’. Left standing alone amid dozens of her peers playing dead was a girl solemnly clutching a sign that simply read ‘the president of the United States kills 875 people every week”.
Meanwhile students around the country joined in an organised video appeal to the UN which called for Obama to be “punished for thousands of lost lives”. Protests over the Ukrainian conflict have seen Obama vilified for his perceived involvement in the ‘genocide’ of ethnic Russians in the east of the turbulent nation.
The concerted drive is part and parcel of a campaign by Russian youth patriots who have upped the ante with ultranationalist slogans in a complex revolt against the perceived encroachment of western imperialism and cultural values.