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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media Try to Dig Up Links Between Obama and Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama enjoys at least two ties to Russia: a love for Pushkin and a cousin who studied in Moscow. Maybe.

The Russian media have had a field day looking for links between Obama and Russia ever since he was elected president last year. The speculation has continued in the run-up to Obama’s visit to Moscow next week.

Obama’s love for poet Alexander Pushkin inspired him to name the youngest of his two daughters Natasha in honor of Pushkin’s wife, Natalya Goncharova, according to the reports in the tabloid press.

Natasha Obama, 8, is usually referred to as Sasha, another popular Russian name.

Natasha, however, is the diminutive of Natalya, while Sasha is the diminutive of Alexandra.

Obama has not confirmed the reports, but Kenneth Pushkin, the president of the Pushkin Fund in the United States, insisted that he was a fan of the 19th-century poet.

“Like many intelligent African-Americans, the U.S. president knows and loves the work of the great Russian poet,” Kenneth Pushkin told Interfax on Tuesday.

Like Obama, Pushkin has African roots because his grandfather, Gannibal, came from Ethiopia. Obama’s father was Kenyan.

Russian newspapers have also reported that Obama has a 26-year-old cousin, Remigio Obama Nguema Nzang studying at a Moscow university.

The web site of the Peoples’ Friendship University says that an Equatorial Guinea native named Remigio Obama Nguema Nzang was a student in 2007. But the Federal Migration Service has denied that she was a relative of the U.S. president.