A famous Russian TV anchor has been taken off the air for making an obscene gesture after mentioning U.S. President Barack Obama in a live newscast, the channel said on Thursday.
Tatiana Limanova, an award-winning journalist and host of a news show on the REN-TV private channel, waved her middle finger when presenting a story about the APEC summit in Hawaaii, a moment after mentioning Mr. Obama.
The video went viral on the Internet, with many viewers speculating the gesture had been meant to insult the President, who met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the summit.
"The gesture was addressed to the members of the editing crew. There was no implication of any kind and it had no reference to the information delivered by Tatiana Limanova," a spokesman for the TV station told Interfax.
Ms. Limanova thought she was reading the news off-screen when she raised a finger, the spokesman said. There were no details on how Ms. Limanova's duties would change after the incident.
Relations between Russia and the United States have been strained recently over U.S. plans to deploy a missile defence shield in Europe.
REN-TV is broadcast across Russia and the former Soviet Union. It is owned by tycoon Yuri Kovalchuk, believed to be close to Russia's paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
But the channel is widely regarded as a relatively free and unbiased one in a country where the government has a tight grip on much of the media.