'Barack Obama' Blackface Skit on Russian TV Sparks Outrage

A Russian TV show has mocked former president Barack Obama by having a woman impersonate him in blackface and acting out a racist caricature.

The late night political satire show Mezhdunarodnaya Pilorama [International Saw-Panorama] has been condemned for a sketch which was broadcast on the Kremlin-funded channel NTV on Saturday night.

During the clip, host Tigran Keosayan segues into an interview with what is supposed to be Obama, who is wearing a red bandana, chains and an oversized t-shirt.

The sketch was part of the show which was ridiculing Obama following the release of his memoirs, A Promised Land.

"We now go live to the dark side of America's history, Barack Obama," Keosayan said while introducing the character, reported The Moscow Times.

The woman then performs a series of exaggerated gestures while singing a song, before shouting "Black Lives Matter."

Keosayan then interrupts the woman, adding that "there's no racism in Russia."

During the interview, Keosayan asks the women portraying Obama: "Do you consider this book your achievement?"

The woman in blackface agrees, before stating that "none of my relatives that came before me could write." She adds that the motivation before writing the book was "royalties," reported The Moscow Times.

"You should have been a rap musician," Keosayan tells the woman after she performs a Donald Trump-themed rhyme when asked to cite a passage from the book.

Не могу пройти мимо очередного шедевра Боброедов. Автор и сценарист программы - Маргарита Симоньян. Вместе с мужем ведущим они получают за каждый выпуск в районе 5 млн рублей. И, напоминаю, свою дочь Кеосаян отправил учиться в Нью-Йорк pic.twitter.com/dd9nTFAr5j

— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) November 29, 2020

Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who recently accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating a poison attack against him after he fell ill on a plane in August, was one of those who criticized the sketch.

In a tweet, Navalny noted how Keosayan is the husband and writing partner of fellow Kremlin-funded RT broadcaster's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, and that the pair receive around five million rubles ($65,000) per episode.

"And I remind you that Keosayan sent his daughter to study in New York," Navalny added.

The Moscow Times noted that other Russian Twitter users also criticized the clip as "garbage," and that the woman in blackface's racist impression is nothing like Obama.

NTV has been contacted for comment.

Obama's A Promised Land has already gone on to sell more than 1.7 million copies in the U.S. and Canada during its first week of sales, Penguin Random House said

The publishing company also confirmed that A Promised Land's week-one sales were also the largest total ever published by Penguin Random House.

The hardcover edition of Obama's memoir now has 4.3 million copies in print in the U.S. and Canada, following an initial printing of 3.4 million copies.

Barack Obama
Former US President Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in rally as he campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden in Miami, Florida on November 2, 2020. A Russian television sketch featured a racist impersonation of Obama by an actress in blackface. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty