Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Kristina Rihanoff has apologised after posting a number of tweets which many have deemed to be supportive of Vladamir Putin amid Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
The Russian-born dancer, 44, who was raised in Vladivostok but now lives in the UK, posted a series of now-deleted comments on social media arguing how her business had been affected by lockdown restrictions.
In the post she appeared to imply she cared more about her own livelihood than the invasion of Ukraine.
What did the tweets say?
The former Strictly pro, who starred in eight series of the BBC show from 2008 to 2015, said she does not “give a s**t about the war” in a now-deleted Twitter post, criticising Covid restrictions for her loss of business.
She wrote: “I do want to focus on what sort of punishment Boris Johnson will have for destroying my family run business and 1000 of others. Many of my friends LOST businesses because of government lockdowns. Don’t give a s**t about the war but I do about the debt because of NO TRADING for 2yrs.”
She also suggested in another post that nations want war as it is a “convenient” distraction from the coronavirus partygate scandal at Downing Street.
In a post, she said: “Biden can only change his diapers on his own, he can’t do anything else. People who control him know that war is very profitable. Let’s make sure war happens. At all costs.
“And isn’t it great that UK no longer angry at diabolical Boris Johnson parties. How convenient.”
She also shared a cartoon which showed US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Boris Johnson pointing and saying “Russian man bad” while standing on a pile of bodies.
Her caption read: “Don’t even have to say anything. Pure genius.”
In another post, she hit out at a Ukrainian journalist who wrote about her mother fleeing the country saying: “Why don’t you report about everyone who was abused in Ukraine by extreme nationalists for 8 yrs prohibiting families to speak Russian language, terrorising peaceful Russian families which I know many who live in Ukraine.”
The former Strictly star also criticised Foreign Secretary Liz Truss after sanctions against Russia were announced.
She said: “Nobody gives a flying monkey about your sanctions. Stand up first for UK & sort out your own s*** & get geography & history lesson next time you go to Russia to talk politics U R #embarrassing.”
What did Rihanoff say in apology?
Rihanoff shared a statement to Twitter in which she said she “made fun” of Sky News’ report on Russia being banned from Eurovision as she thought there was “far more important information” on that day other than the singing competition update.
She went on to clarify that she did not support “Putin, war, invasion, lost lives and politics”.
She wrote: “I made fun of Eurovision tweet by Sky. I did think there was far more important information on that day that Eurovision.
“This is in any form says I was supporting what’s happening at the moment between Russia & Ukraine.
“It’s absolutely devastating for someone like me who’s grandad from Ukraine and I have Ukrainian name to my daughter – Milena. My best friend is also from Ukraine.
“I grew up with knowledge that we were one nation and one country.
“I’m not into politics and hate politicians because they all lie.
“Seeing the news is breaking my heart as I have Russian friends who live in Ukraine and vice versa.
“The awful thing is that there is casualties on both sides and on both sides mums & dads will cry for their lost relatives. The point is that this shouldn’t ever taken place, never should have happened.
“The country leaders should have found the way a long time ago to sort this peacefully but they didn’t because war is profitable business and someone unfortunately making profit on this.
“I’m not supporting Putin, war, invasion, lost lives and politics. I hate it as much as a human being possibly can.
“If I offended anyone it wasn’t my intention and I’m deeply sorry.”
The dancer and choreographer clarified that she was born in Russia but left the country 22 years ago.
She now lives in Northampton and has a five-year-old daughter with former England rugby player Ben Cohen, 43, who she started dating after the pair were partnered on Strictly in 2013.
Together they run a yoga, fitness and wellbeing business, plus a dance academy which she said had suffered financially due to lockdown restrictions.
She added: “So you can hate me if this will give you comfort but if I didn’t say something you wanted me to say it’s because sadly I’m powerless doing anything to help anyone in both countries and I don’t believe in useless posts which can’t help to safe lives.
“I can only hope and pray like everyone that this is over soon.
“And it’s really sad that the hate is so powerful everywhere you look at the moment. The whole world is burning in it.”
Her outburst came as her fellow former Strictly pro James Jordan, 43, called on the Russian stars of the BBC show to condemn their country’s president, Vladimir Putin.
He said in a tweet: “I don’t see many of the Russian dancers I know and have even shared the Strictly dance floor with openly speaking out about the war against Ukraine. But are still promoting themselves on social media — very disappointed.”
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