It's the finger heard around the world.
Tatyana Limanova, a newscaster for Russia's REN TV, a privately held network, has taken the Internet by storm, as a clip of her raising her middle finger while reading President Barack Obama's name has become tremendously popular. The incident occurred during a live broadcast earlier in the month, after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assumed chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, a topic the newscast was addressing.
The position had formerly been held by Obama. Limanova displays the obscene gesture as she reads this fact.
But the whole thing may have been a bit of an accident, according to The Telegraph. It seems Limanova may not have actually known she was on camera.
The channel, which goes out to 120 million people across Russia, has declined to comment. But sources close to it have tried to defuse the row by claiming that the newsreader had believed she was off camera at the time and merely providing a voice-over for a report. According to the same storyline, the rude gesture was intended for studio technicians who had been trying to put her off her stride.
The timing seems fishy for many, even if the explanation is true.
While it seems doubtful that this somewhat comical incident will have any true international consequences, it is fair to say that it symbolizes the currently strained state of U.S.-Russia relations. Despite Obama's pledge to "reset" relations with Moscow, the two nations have been at odds over a proposed missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. On Wednesday, Medvedev threatened to target missiles at U.S. missile sites in Europe if he is not guaranteed that missiles in those locations are not aimed at Russia.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article may have inadvertently implied that Medvedev actually threatened to fire upon U.S. missile sites. The language has since been changed to clarify that he in fact threatened to target those bases, not fire upon them.