A Russian company has released a chocolate-flavoured ice cream called "Little Obama" that has been criticised by the US for casual racism. The wrapper of the "Obamka" lolly, produced by the Slavitsa ice cream company features packaging showing a boy with dark curly hair, an earring and a gold band around his leg.
Relations between Moscow and Washington DC are particularly frosty after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, its military intervention in Syria, and perceived provocations from both sides in the Baltic and in international waters.
Slavitsa is based in Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian city that boasts a cafe dedicated to Russian President Vladimir Putin tastefully adorned with dozens of pictures of the Russian president. In the toilets, Obama's face has been embossed on toilet paper with toilet mats bearing the colours of the US flag.
The word "Obamka" is a diminutive that approximates to "Little Obama" and the designer of the controversial wrapper was said to be inspired by "Chunga-Changa", a tropical island in an old Soviet-era cartoon inhabited by two black children.
"We just liked the name. It's so amusing," said Anatoly Ragimkhanov, financial director of the company said to the Vechernyaya Kazan newspaper. "Customers can make their own assumptions about the name. Politically aware citizens may draw certain parallels."
But a US official told Reuters that the ice cream fuels anti-American feeling and is racist in nature. "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.
Despite the offense caused in the west, Slavitsa said in a statement that the ice cream was just part of a new range of treats aimed at children. "With different flavours and glazes, the ice cream symbolises the main races of people on our planet. 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."
This is the latest example of casual racism aimed at the American president in Russia. In 2014, during a Red Bull event in Moscow, a Barack Obama impersonator and four shirtless men in blackface make-up chased another man dressed as a banana. Red Bull said afterwards that they regretted the incident performed by some of the participants.
In 2013, Irina Rodnina, an MP from President Putin's United Russia, party posted a Photoshopped picture of Obama and his wife Michelle staring at a banana on Twitter. She initially defended the post as "freedom of speech" then she apologised and claimed her account was hacked.