Russian Pranksters Feature Obama In Fake Anti-Smoking Ad
There was a hubbub last week in Russia over an anti-smoking poster that featured President Obama.
The poster, spotted at a Moscow bus stop, warned that "smoking kills more people than Obama."
As it turned out, the ad was a fake, but it became a hugely successful anti-American prank on the Internet. The fake ad featured a rather sinister-looking image of President Obama, with the photo manipulated so it appeared that he was taking a drag on a cigarette butt.
The president said in 2013 that he had quit smoking six years earlier.
A white headline said "Smoking kills more people than Obama, although he kills a lot of people. Don't smoke! Don't be like Obama!"
The ad appeared on a glass-enclosed ad board on one end of a bus shelter in north central Moscow. It got immediate attention when Dmitry Gudkov, a member of Parliament, posted a photo of it on his Facebook page.
Gudkov, a frequent critic of the Russian government, said he was "disgusted and ashamed of what appears on the streets of the Russian capital."
Suddenly, it was all over the Russian media and appearing in foreign news reports.
The poster didn't say who had created it and no group has taken responsibility, but many of those reports treated it as part of an anti-smoking campaign.
The people in charge of advertising on the Moscow bus system say there was apparently only one poster and that pranksters pried open the advertising box and put the Obama image inside.
At the bus stop itself, nobody there had even seen the poster during the short time before it was removed.
Ilnur Sundukov, a 28-year-old looking for a job in personnel management, says it was a stupid idea.
"It's not about smoking," he says, "but about politics."
And as for Obama being a killer, "No," he says. "On the news, they tell lies. Take Ukraine, Russia, America — it's all invented to make a conflict and start a war."
Most people we talked with thought the poster was a political stunt, but some believed it was quite right about Obama.
It's not the first time this kind of prank has been used to smear the American president. Last month, a pro-Kremlin group hung a huge banner on a building across from the U.S. Embassy.
It looked like Obama's 2008 election poster, except that the word "hope" had been replaced by the word "killer."
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