Photos have resurfaced of Jen Psaki, the incoming Biden White House press secretary, meeting with Russian officials in 2014 while wearing a hat stitched with the hammer-and-sickle, a symbol of the communist Soviet Union, which caused the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th century.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the ministry, gifted Psaki the hat, a pink fur shapka, during a diplomatic event in Paris on Jan. 13, 2014.
Psaki was a spokeswoman for the State Department at the time. She was accompanied by then-Sec. of State John Kerry.
The State Department posted a photo of Psaki sporting the hat on one of its social media accounts. The Russian foreign ministry also tweeted a photo of Psaki with Kerry and Lavrov.
— MFA Russia ???????? (@mfa_russia) January 13, 2014
President-elect Joe Biden announced on Sunday that Psaki would be White House press secretary in his administration. Biden also announced last week that Kerry will be his “climate czar” and hold a position on the National Security Council.
The photo was taken just before U.S.-Russia relations would enter their tensest phase since the fall of the Soviet Union. Relations between the two countries frayed over Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its interference in U.S. elections. (RELATED: Joe Biden Announces All-Female Communications Team)
Psaki was not known for being particularly soft on Russia, and she is not known to have publicly supported communism. The state-controlled media outlet RT referred to her in an article on Monday as a “Russian sanctions aficionado.”
But the hammer-and-sickle emblazoned on Psaki’s hat has for more than a century been viewed as a symbol of Soviet-style communism and totalitarianism.
The hammer-and-sickle’s affiliation with Soviet communism has led to a push from some quarters to treat it in the same vein as the Nazi swastika. Advocates for that position assert that the Soviet Union directly or indirectly caused tens of millions of deaths in the 20th century through war, executions, purges and man-made famine.
According to an estimate by Russia expert David Satter, at least 20 million Russians were put to death or died as a direct result of Soviet policies.
Nearly 4 million Ukrainians are believed to have died during a famine from 1932-1933 referred to as the Holodomor, which translates to “death inflicted by starvation.”
The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
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