A Russian news presenter has caused amusement and outrage by ‘flipping the bird’ when reading a story about US president Barack Obama.

A video of the news broadcast has been widely distributed on the internet, although the Russian broadcasters REN TV have attempted to instruct online video channels to remove it due to copyright infringements.

The gesture was made during a report about Russian president Dmitry Medvedev taking over the chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Cooperation organisation from Obama. At the mention of the US leader’s name, Tatyana Limanova – an award winning journalist – made a clear middle-finger gesture.

“On 14 November during the ‘News 24’ programme the presenter Limanova made an unacceptable gesture that was a synonym for an offensive expression,” read a statement from REN TV, which is owned by associates of Vladimir Putin.

“A decision has been taken that T Limanova cannot and will not continue to work on the REN TV channel as a presenter”

Although the incident happened earlier this month it has only just been widely reported after being covered by The Daily Telegraph.

According to some reports, REN TV sources have said that the anchorwoman thought that she was off-air at the time and the insult was jokingly aimed at studio technicians, not at the mention of the president of the USA.