In September, Russian ex-Olympian figure skater and pro-Putin parliamentarian Irina Rodnina tweeted this doctored, blatantly racist photo of Barack and Michelle Obama.
After a flurry of abuse on Russian Twitter, Rodnina claimed she had been "sent the picture from the U.S." and wrote at the time: "Freedom of speech is freedom! Answer for your own complexes yourself!" She then deleted the tweets.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul condemned her tweet, but the controversy quickly died down in Russia, where casual racism is widespread.
On Friday, however, the incident caught the attention of the wider public after Rodnina lit the Olympic torch to open the Winter Games in Sochi.
Rodnina finally apologized on Monday...
...and employed the "I was hacked" defense previously used by former congressman and sexting scandal star Anthony Weiner.
Two days earlier, however, Rodnina's daughter, HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski, responded to "Twitter hate" by implying the tweet was real.
Minkovski, a former host on Kremlin propaganda channel RT, also immediately retweeted her mother's apology tweets, which were written in a style more reminiscent of Alyona's Twitter feed than her mother's.
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
Contact Max Seddon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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