MOSCOW, July 30 (R-Sport) - Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, renowned for his populist anti-Western stance, on Tuesday hit out at the national carrier Aeroflot’s decision to sponsor Manchester United rather than plowing funds into domestic sports teams.
In a playful but barbed comment on microblogging site Twitter Rogozin hinted the airline should consider adopting a more patriotic PR strategy.
"Aeroflot prefers Anglo-Saxon football and basketball clubs?" Rogozin tweeted, also referring to the company's sponsorship of NBA basketball team the Brooklyn Nets.
"I might just invite them to my place for a heart-to-heart chat," the 49-year-old quipped.
As of midday Tuesday, Aeroflot had not officially responded.
Rogozin, also known for his dry sense of humor, won popularity with the Kremlin - and notoriety in the West - during his time as Russia's outspoken envoy to NATO.
But if he is serious about hoping to reshape the company's marketing strategy, he might not get very far: Aeroflot is 51 percent government-owned.
The Nets, for their part, are owned by Kremlin-friendly Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who announced the tie-up with the carrier in 2010.
Earlier this month Aeroflot replaced Turkish Airlines as Manchester United's official carrier in a five-year deal that brings the company unprecedented global exposure.
Rogozin is the former leader of the now-defunct nationalist Rodina party. In 2008 he was appointed Russia's ambassador to NATO. He was promoted to deputy prime minister in December 2011.