The woman pictured here is Irina Rodnina. Ms. Rodnina is former Gold Medal Olympic figure skater for Russia. In 2007, she was elected to Russia’s State Duma as a member of President Putin’s United Russia Party. She recently had the honor of being one of the final torch lighters of the Olympic games in Sochi. That might be a problem for Ms. Rodnina in the long run, because it brought new found attention to a racist tweet she made back in September.
At that time, Ms. Rodnina was one of many who tweeted this photoshopped pic of the American first couple:
Rodnina, who naturally tweets in Russian, responded to the controversy by saying, “Freedom of speech is freedom! Answer for your own complexes yourself!” At the time, she also said she had been sent the pic from the U.S. She then defended her freedom of speech by…deleting the racist tweet in question. Alrighty then.
This was also back in September, well before the Olympic games, and the controversy died down before flaring back up due to Rodnina taking part in the torch lighting ceremony. There’s a lesson here: if you are going to be a racist, keep a low profile.
As a result of the controversy, Rodnina issued an actual apology in English…and then claimed that she was hacked.
Claiming you are hacked always goes well…particularly when you previously said that you were sent the tweet…and defended its posting as freedom of speech…and then when your own daughter undercuts your argument by saying that she disagreed with the tweet and it was something that had been addressed as a family.
Two lessons here, aside from the obvious of not tweeting offensive racist pictures. First, be consistent. There has been no shortage of politicians who said something offensive and then didn’t apologize; see State Senator Robert Rucho, who said that Obamacare is worse then Nazis, Soviets and terrorists combined. There are also, of course, no shortage of elected officials who immediately apologized after doing something offensive or stupid. Rodnina only apologized when the story became an international incident. She should have either apologized from the start or just shrugged it off. By originally acting unrepentant and then apologizing months later, she appears extremely disingenuous.
Second, don’t claim you were hacked – ask Anthony Weiner how well that went for him – and definitely don’t claim you were hacked when so much evidence exists to prove otherwise. It’s just silly. Everyone knows you weren’t hacked. Just stop. If you were legitimately hacked, you still have to say something along the lines of “We are taking steps in the future to better secure the account and apologize to anyone who may have been offended by the unfortunate and insensitive content posted here.” At least then it shows you are trying to take responsibility for what happened.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that someone related to the Olympics has gotten into trouble as a result of a tweet gone wrong. Before the 2012 Summer Games, a Greek athlete was suspended from the games after a racist tweet. Paraskevi Papachristou, a female triple jumper, was removed from the Greek team after tweeting, “With so many Africans in Greece, the mosquitoes from the West Nile will at least be eating some homemade food.” Papachristou apologized but couldn’t get back on the team.
Anything else to add? Let us know in the comments.