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Russian company reject critics of 'Little Obama' ice cream

CONTROVERSIAL: The ‘Little Obamka’ ice cream bar

A NEW chocolate-flavoured ice cream created by a Russian company has faced criticism after from American commentators over its controversial name.

The ‘Obamka’ ice cream bar hit shelves in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny in late April, according to the Moscow Times.

The -ka suffix in Russian is used to designate something as small, so the name translates to 'Little Obama', Reuters reports.

The sweet treat, produced by Slavista, is a vanilla ice cream bar coated in chocolate and comes in a wrapper that "features an image of a smiling young African boy, wearing an ear ring and holding an ice cream".

Rasil Mustafin, deputy development director at the Slavista ice cream factory, claims the name of the product isn’t political at all, but was chosen due to the ice cream's chocolate flavour.

“There’s no political underpinning," Mustafin said. “We have no intention to offend anyone. Someone at the factory came up with the idea.”

According to the Moscow Times, the ice cream’s packaging was inspired by a Soviet-era cartoon in which little African children inhabited the fictional island of “Chunga-Changa.”

“We just like the name,” said Anatoli Ragimkhanov, financial director of the factory. “It’s so amusing.”

Relations between the two countries have been at a “post-Cold War low” ever since the Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria.

The Russian media and pro-Kremlin supporters have often mocked the US president in a racially insensitive manner, the news service also claimed.

In a public statement, Slavista insisted that its product was only part of a campaign targeting children with “cheerful” characters.

“With different flavours and glazes, the ice cream symbolises the main races of people on our planet,” the company said. “Ice cream names need to be memorable. For those with a rich imagination, various associations might arise, but this product is for children and is a long way from politics.”

An unnamed US official told Reuters, "While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent."

As an example of this, Reuters cites a Vladimir Putin-themed café that opened recently in the city of Krasnoyarsk featuring President Obama's face on the toilet paper.

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