Russian TV ice dance pair spark controversy with Holocaust costumes
Former Olympic ice dancer Tatiana Navka and her on-screen partner have caused controversy by dressing up in concentration camp uniforms for a routine on a popular television show.
Navka, who is the wife of Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and acor Andrei Burkovsky appeared in Saturday's episode of Ice Age wearing striped uniforms bearing yellow six-pointed stars and heavily made up to look bruised and frail.
Their routine, which aired on state-owned Channel One, was based on Life Is Beautiful, the Academy Award-winning Italian film about a Jewish father who pretends for the sake of his small son that their internment in a Nazi camp is just a game.
Navka's Instagram account was soon flooded with indignant comments.
Navka and Burkovsky told Russian media on Sunday that it was their way of paying homage to Holocaust victims.
While some Russians were indignant at what they saw as mockery of the memory of the dead, others posted messages of support on Navka's Instagram account, saying that the dance brought tears to their eyes.
The routine was choreographed by 2002 Olympic silver medallist Ilya Averbukh, who is Jewish.
Averbukh, who said in a 2012 interview that he "had problems" in his childhood because of his Jewish name, stood by the Holocaust-themed dance.
"This routine is my idea," Averbukh, who is also Ice Age's chief producer, told Komsomolskaya Pravda on Sunday. "I have done a lot of routines on the war and Jewish themes, there were very different characters."
Russia's top officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have honoured Holocaust victims and have spoken against attempts to justify the crimes of Nazis or their allies.