Scandal broke out after a customer purchased a chopping board with an image of US President Barack Obama as a monkey, in a store in Tatarstan’s main city Kazan and took pictures that went viral. The product features a family of monkeys, with an image of Obama’s face superimposed onto that of the smallest primate.
The upscale Russian store chain on Thursday, December 10, apologised on Thursday for selling the chopping boards after the US embassy reacted furiously.
The store chain also announced it had pulled the item from its shelves, saying it had not been aware of Obama’s image. “Sales of the chopping boards have been stopped,” Valentina Moiseyeva, a spokeswoman for the Bakhetle supermarket chain, Tass agency reported. “We are sorry that such product was on our store shelves. For us it is unacceptable that a store is used as a place for political provocation,” Moiseyeva said, adding that the supermarket had lodged a formal complaint against the boards’ supplier.
The board is styled as a calendar for 2016, the year of the monkey according to the Chinese zodiac.
The Bakhetle chain is based in Russia’s traditionally Muslim region of Tatarstan but has stores throughout the country.
Will Stevens, the spokesman for the US Embassy in Moscow, took to Twitter to show his displeasure. “Disgusting to see that such blatant racism has a place on Russian store shelves,” Stevens wrote on Twitter.