Photodisc/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — The wife of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman has triggered outrage by performing a Holocaust-themed ice-skating routine on a Russian reality television show.
Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic ice dancer who is married to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s powerful press secretary, performed the routine on Saturday night for a show on Russia’s main state network, Channel 1. Navka and her dance partner, Andrei Burkovsky pirouetted and smiled while wearing the striped uniforms of concentration camp prisoners, including the paper yellow Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.
In a post on her Instagram account, Navka wrote that the routine was meant as a tribute to the Oscar-winning Italian film, Life is Beautiful, which follows the efforts of a father who tries to protect his son from the horrors of the concentration camp they are imprisoned in by pretending that it’s just a game.
Navka’s routine attempted to replicate parts of the movie, with she and her partner clowning and laughing — at one point miming machine-gun shots toward one another — but many viewers online found it in poor taste. Thousands of people on social media have attacked the performance as insensitive.
“You are not supposed to perform Holocaust-themed ice-dances,” Jacob Labendz, a post-doctorate student in Jewish Studies at Penn State University, wrote on Twitter, summing up many viewers’ reaction.
In her post on Instagram before the flood of criticism, Navka wrote of the routine “Based on one of my favorite films, Life is Beautiful. You have to show this film to your children. Our children need to know and remember that terrible time, which I hope, God willing, they will never know.”
Navka, 41, won gold in ice-dancing at the 2006 Olympics and has since become a prominent television personality. Similar to Dancing with the Stars, the show Navka performed on, Ice Age, has film and theater actors skate often kitsch routines in front of judges.
The furor took on another aspect because of Navka’s marriage to Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. Peskov is unusually prominent for a government press secretary, an influential and wealthy figure in his own right and a significant member of the Kremlin elite. Peskov and Navka’s wedding in August 2015 attracted attention for its luxuriousness, christened by the Russian news media as the “wedding of the century.”
Navka’s performance is the second time this year a Holocaust-themed ice-skating routine has appeared on Russian television. A performance in April saw an actress playing a Jewish fugitive dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” with a man dressed as a Nazi trooper.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.