Oddly Enough

Fruit seller tries to ride Obama's coattails

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has inspired an African immigrant to proclaim himself the “Obama of Volgograd” and run for mayor in the southern Russian region.

Campaign posters for Zhoakim Krima, a 37-year-old water melon salesman from West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau, have appeared along the main roads in the Volgograd town of Sredny Akhtub, daily newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Wednesday.

But his campaign slogan, playing on the rampant stereotypes in provincial Russia, seems unlikely to win Obama’s support -- Krima has pledged to “work day and night like a slave” for the good of the town, the newspaper reported.

The prevalence of hate crimes and the general distrust of migrants force most blacks to lead low-profile lives in Russia, where the African-born population is tiny.

Reporting by Simon Shuster; Editing by Jon Boyle