Russian anchor Tatyana Limanova told RIA Novosti she was leaving the Ren TV news channel following an indecent gesture that world media said was directed toward U.S. President Barack Obama.
Limanova showed her middle finger when reading U.S. President Barack Obama’s name during a November 14 item on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference. Online footage of the incident has since gone viral.
The newscaster told RIA Novosti that her gesture had nothing to do with Obama but was addressed to her colleagues and was meant to ask them to raise the text she was reading.
Limanova said she did not know she was on camera when she made the gesture, an explanation that failed to impress the Ren TV bosses.
“This does not diminish her guilt and cannot be considered an excuse. The Ren TV management views this action as the gravest violation of on-air discipline and a demonstration of unprofessionalism,” the channel said.
Limanova said her attitude toward the Ren TV management’s decision to take her off the air was “calm.”
“The channel management apparently decided to treat this ridiculous incident seriously, and I completely accept and respect this position… I realize that I let the channel down and probably offended some of the viewers,” she said.
The award-winning anchor said the situation was not worth the efforts made by journalists who made a small international scandal out of it.
“All this happened because English-language headlines on Youtube attracted the attention of Western viewers, and journalists joined in. This is a vivid example of how facts may be interpreted,” she said.
“The Western press presented this to readers as a conspiracy theory, and there was so much nonsense that I have no words,” Limanova said.
“My attitude toward President Barack Obama is quite normal, and my gesture had nothing to do with the respected U.S. president,” she said.
“I believed I was off camera. I was reading text on paper, and I made the gesture to the prompter to ask him to raise the text… I was sure I was off camera,” the newscaster said, adding that otherwise, she wouldn’t have made the gesture because it was “unprofessional.”
Limanova said she was leaving the channel. “I let the channel down, so I don’t think it’s possible to stay here,” she said.
Asked what her plans were, she said she was still thinking.